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All eyes on Alas, Banchero

RENREN Ritualo at PBA Rookie Camp

As expected, the attention were on top rookie prospects Kevin Alas and Fil-Am guard Chris Banchero in Day 1 of the 2014 Gatorade PBA Draft Combine yesterday at the Hoops Gym in Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong City.

Banchero, a 6-foot-1 playmaker from Washington who played professional basketball in Italy and with San Miguel Beer in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) last year, topped in all five agility tests.

Banchero, who played for Boracay Rum in the PBA D-League, finished first in the Shuttle Run Test as the only player to clock under 17 seconds with 16.87 seconds, as well as the only participants to break the three-second barrier in the ¾ Court Sprint with a time of 2.91 seconds.

In the Standing Vertical Leap – where players jumped from the spot where they were – Banchero measured 33.73 inches. The former Seattle Pacific University star doubled that up in the Maximum Vertical Leap with 68.32 inches.

Banchero also topped the Lane Agility Drill with a time of 8.33 seconds, and then capped the session by helping Team C to a 36-29 win against the Alas-led Team D in a 20-minute game.

“It was a great experience, being here with all these players. I know a lot of them, and it was fun to go against them,” said Banchero. “Gave them my all, been preparing for the PBA the past three months.”

“I’m not scared of anybody, I’m gonna go blow-for blow with whoever it is, regardless of the player, regardless of the name. I’m not backing from anybody. That shouldn’t be a thing on any coaches’ mind. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who’s in front of me,” added Banchero, when asked to comment if he’s ready to get physical despite his good looks.

There’s only one draft applicant that Banchero is not willing to get head-to-head, and that’s boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

The eight-time division champion Pacquiao joined the draft despite being named head coach of expansion team Kia. There were reports that he would skip the draft combine and take the agility test, and will be measured instead for his biometrics at the PBA Commissioner’s Office.

Adamson’s Ross Cabrera led Team C with 11 points, while his Falcon’s teammate Xavier Cruz and Mapua’s Kevin Espinas had five points each. Banchero finished with two points and three rebounds.

Franklin Bonifacio Jr., a Fil-Am hopeful from Los Positas College in California, led Team D with 10 points, while Adamson’s John Rodney Brondial contributed eight points and nine rebounds.

Arellano’s Rocky Acidre scored 11 points, while Perpetual Help’s Juneric Baloria added nine markers as Team A downed Team B, 44-26. (Waylon Galvez)