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Basically, the script was followed to the letter.
There were a few surprises, but as expected, the Blackwater Elite got what they needed as they selected Raffy Banal with the No. 1 overall pick and obtained the consensus No. 1 player from the Gilas Cadet in Mac Belo in the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft yesterday at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.
Belo, a 6-foot-4 forward was chosen from the ‘special draft’ while the 6-foot-2 shooting guard Banal was made the top selection in the regular drafting process where a total of 37 rookies were selected out of 53 hopefuls.
“Thankful syempre (to Blackwater) Basta bigay ko lang yung best ko for my new team,” said Belo, who won Finals MVP honors after he helped Far Eastern University capture the UAAP title last year.
Aside from Belo, other Gilas Cadet members taken were Barangay Ginebra’s Kevin Ferrer, Star’s Jio Jalalon, Phoenix Fuel’s Matt Wright, Mahindra’s Russel Escoto, San Miguel Beer’s Arnold Van Opstal, TNT KaTropa’s Roger Pogoy, NLEX’s Al Gotladera, Meralco’s Ed Daquioag, Rain or Shine’s Mike Tolomia and Alaska’s Carl Bryan Cruz.
Initial reports had Pogoy going to Meralco, while Daquioag was supposed to join NLEX but the two MVP teams bared their respective picks on Draft Day, surprising some of the fans.
As for Banal, he is looking forward to playing for a young Elite squad that has incoming sophomore Art Dela Cruz and JP Erram, and which will be aiming for a return trip to the quarterfinal playoffs in the Philippine Cup later this month.
“I feel blessed,” said Banal, who played high school basketball for Ateneo but decided to hone his skills in the US where he played five years for Victory University in Memphis, Tennessee and Hope International University in Fullerton, California.