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Belo, Banal set for Blackwater?

With versatile forward Mac Belo already in, Blackwater is set to add an intriguing ‘big’ guard to bolster its roster for the upcoming season as the team announces its picks in today’s 2016 PBA Rookie Draft at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.

The team is set to pick Rafael Banal with the No. 1 overall selection in the regular rookie draft, which would give the Elite a legitimate combo guard, or a pass-first player that is capable of orchestrating the offense of Blackwater but can easily take the shooting guard position and be a threat on the offensive attack of the Elite.

“We’re very impressed with his (Banal) performance during the PBA Rookie Draft Combine,” said Blackwater team manager Jonson Martines, adding that no less than team owner Dioceldo Sy gave the orders to get the 6-foot-2 player.

“He’s a big guard with a good outside shooting. I think he can really help us in our campaign next season,” added Martines as the Elite’s remaining guard rotation include Nards Pinto, Roi Sumang, and Juami Tiongson.

As for Belo, he was among the 12 Gilas Cadet players taken from the ‘special draft’ last Thursday.

The rest of the ‘special draft’ that will be announced in alphabetical order are Jio Jalalon to Star and Kevin Ferrer to Ginebra. Reports of a trade came out yesterday, but Star’s Rene Pardo already clarified that there will be no swap between the two SMC sister teams.

Also set to join their respective teams from the Gilas Cadet are Matthew Wright to Phoenix, Russell Escoto to Mahindra, Arnold Van Opstal to SMB, Ed Daquioag to NLEX, Mike Tolomia to Rain or Shine and Roger Pogoy to Meralco.

Three teams have yet to announce their respective selections from the Gilas Cadet, namely Alaska, Globalport and TNT Katropa, while the remaining choices are Carl Bryan Cruz, Alfonso Gotladera and Von Pessumal.

With the acquisition of Banal, this leaves other top prospects like Jelo Alolino, Rashawn McCarthy, Jonathan Grey, Chris Javier and Joseph Eriobu among the 53 rookie hopefuls to make it to the first round of the regular Rookie Draft.

After the Elite, picking second overall in the draft order is Phoenix, followed by Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (No. 3 from Phoenix trade), Mahindra (No. 4), Star (No. 5), Philippine Cup winner San Miguel Beer (No. 6), Meralco (No. 7), NLEX (No. 8), Commissioner’s Cup titlist Rain or Shine (No. 9), Ginebra (No. 10), Alaska (No. 11) and Phoenix (No. 12 from SMB trade).

The son of ex-pro and former PBA coach Joel Banal, the young Banal trained in the US for almost five years as he played for Victory University in Memphis, Tennessee and Hope International University in Fullerton, California.

The 24-year-old former Ateneo high school stalwart – winning two UAAP titles as backcourt duo of Kiefer Ravena – also played for Racal in the PBA D-League, establishing himself and his stocks for the draft as one of the tournament’s top prospects.

The team has already selected Belo in a pre-determined ‘special draft’ involving the 12 Gilas Cadet players during the PBA Board meeting last Thursday. The formal announcement of the ‘special draft’ will happen before the regular draft procedure.

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