PBA applicants took advantage of the absence of Troy Rosario and Moala Tautuaa in yesterday’s Draft Combine to boost their stocks for Sunday’s PBA Rookie Draft at Robinson’s Place Ermita.
Tautuaa and Rosario, expected to be the first two picks, were excused from the mandatory combine to join Gilas Pilipinas’ stint in a four-team pocket tournament in Estonia, allowing scouts to get closer look at other hopefuls.
Among those who showcased their skills were former La Salle standout Norbert Torres, one-time Ateneo star Chris Newsome, University of Perpetual Help’s Earl Scottie Thompson and the Letran duo of Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz.
“I’m both excited and nervous,” said the 25-year-old Newsome, who played two seasons with the Blue Eagles in the UAAP. “I’m excited because I’ve been waiting for this since I came here to play (for Ateneo) and I’ve been watching the PBA. It’s something I’m dreaming about for a long time.”
“I’m nervous because I have no idea where I’m going to go. There are 12 teams and you can end up to anyone of them. Even you get drafted, there’s no certainty you’ll stay on that team.”
“(But) I do expect to go first round. I do feel that I’m a good enough player in this year’s draft to go first round. It’s a guard heavy draft, but I’m one of the few players who can play guard and forward, that’s my advantage.”
Talk ‘N Text owns the first pick in the draft but coach Jong Uichico is torn between Tautuaa and Rosario.
But Uichico may end up getting both players should the Mahindra Enforcers (formerly Kia Carnival) decide to trade the pick to the Tropang Texters.
Rain or Shine will select third overall, and sources said that coach Yeng Guiao is looking at the possibility of getting either Newsome, Torres or San Beda mainstay Art dela Cruz.
“I’ll just be ready for anything,” said Torres, who arrived Tuesday from Toronto where he had a extensive training to prepare him for the PBA. “Whatever team picks me, I’m going to play wherever I go, just going to bring whatever I have to bring to that team that will pick me.”
“I heard a lot of good things about coach Yeng Guiao, I’m ready to play for him if that’s the case. Just hard work and scrappy play, whatever the coach needs me to do I’ll do it to the best of my ability. As long as they give me a chance, I won’t disappoint.”
Other players who also took the spotlight are Fil-Ams Maverick Ahanmisi and Jerramy King, a pair of combo guards who played in the US NCAA and the PBA D-League.
The 6-foot-2 Ahinmisi topped the 3/4 Court Sprint with a time of 3.43 seconds and Lane Agility Drill as he clocked in 11.22 seconds, while the 5-foot-11 King bested the Maximum Vertical Leap with 38.5 inches.
and the Reaction Time with 0.372 second in the morning session.
Participants were divided to two groups in Day 1, as players with surnames starting A-L were in the morning session, while M-Z took part in the afternoon session, which also had the same drills arranged by tournament director and former PBA coach Franz Pumaren.
Meralco will select fourth, followed by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, NLEX, Meralco, Star, Blackwater, NLEX, San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine.
No. 7, Star at No. 8, Blackwater at No. 9, NLEX at No. 10, Philippine Cup and Governors’ Cup San Miguel Beer at No. 11 and ROS at No. 12.
The combine will end today with the hopefuls being divided into eight teams for a mini-tournament.