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PBA: Elite to hang on to No. 1 draft pick

Contrary to what it did the previous season, Blackwater is keeping the No. 1 overall selection – both the regular pick and the one it has on the Gilas Cadet – in this Sunday’s PBA Rookie Draft.

Blackwater team manager Jonson Martines mentioned this yesterday, as the Elite own both picks owing to their 12th placed finish in the just-concluded season and they intend to use it on Mac Belo on the Gilas Cadet draft while three players are on their radar for the regular pick.

“We’re keeping the pick, that’s for sure. We’re not trading it, we’ll definitely use it to improve our team,” said Martines. “Our goal is compete for playoff spot in next season, especially in the Philippine Cup, that’s what we’re preparing for.”

Last season, Blackwater traded the No. 1 pick to TNT KaTropa in a three-way deal and in return got veteran forward Larry Rodriguez – a move that was criticized by several PBA observers.

TNT used the No. 1 pick to select Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa.

Martines said they are still undecided on the pick, although they are looking at three possibilities – former St. Benilde star Jonathan Grey, onetime University of the East player Chris Javier and Fil-Am Rashawn McCarthy.

Grey, who stands 6-foot-2, plays the two-guard position, while Javier is a 6-foot-5 forward-center. As for McCarthy, the 6-foot-1 guard played for the Malaysia Dragons in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) alongside Tautuaa.

While the Elite are still undecided on the selection, Martines said they have already identified Belo as their Gilas Cadet draft.

“For the Gilas drafting, we’re all set to pick Mac Belo… no question about that,” Martines said yesterday when contacted by the Bulletin-Tempo. “He’s definitely one of the best players on the list.”

Belo, who helped Far Eastern University end a 10-year title drought in the previous UAAP men’s basketball championship, has been named by the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the PBA that comprised the 12-man Gilas Cadet roster from where the 12 teams will select.

Aside from Belo, other members of the Gilas Cadet are Kevin Ferrer, Jio Jalalon, Mike Tolomia, Ed Daquioag, Russell Escoto, Von Pessumal, Roger Pogoy, Arnold Van Opstal, Matthew Wright and Fonso Gotladera.

The regular draft order will have Phoenix picking second overall after Blackwater, followed by Ginebra (3), Mahindra (4), Star (5) San Miguel Beer (6), Meralco (7), NLEX (8), Rain or Shine (9), Ginebra (10), Alaska (11) and SMB (12).

In the Gilas Cadet draft, the order will have Blackwater (1), Star (2), Phoenix (3), Mahindra (4), Globalport (5), NLEX (6), Meralco (7), TNT (8), Rain or Shine (9), Ginebra (10), Alaska (11) and SMB (12).