By JONAS TERRADO
Fellow colleagues, fans and observers have been spending the past few weeks doing their own mock version of the PBA Rookie Draft to figure out where the best players from the list of 86 applicants are going to end up with.
With the draft proceedings slated Sunday, March 14, 2021, this writer opted to join the bandwagon to figure out if teams prefer to take the best talent available or go for a player that can fill what the team needs.
The following are predictions for the first round, and it appears that the first three, four or five picks are a mere formality, with some of the rest likely could be different by the time the real draft takes place.
1.) TERRAFIRMA DYIP — Joshua Munzon
There’s no question that Munzon is the best player of the draft, given his ability to score at will during his days with the Saigon Heat and Westports Malaysia Dragons in the ASEAN Basketball League, AMA in the PBA D-League and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3. It would have been nice to see him team up with CJ Perez, but Munzon is going to settle with trying to be the franchise’s new go-to-guy following Perez’s trade to San Miguel Beer.
2.) NORTHPORT BATANG PIER — Jamie Malonzo
Malonzo will bring his athleticism, versatility and energy that he showed during his time at Portland State, his brief stints with La Salle in the UAAP and Marinerong Pilipino in the PBA D-League and Mighty Sports Philippines in the Dubai Invitational. The Batang Pier will be glad to have the 6-foot-6 cager provide that to a team that can be something special if given a chance to keep a competitive roster in the long term.
3.) NLEX ROAD WARRIORS — Calvin Oftana
Instead of having two picks, the Road Warriors will settle on the No. 3 pick which they’ll likely use to tap Oftana, the versatile forward who won the NCAA Season 95 Most Valuable Player with San Beda. His stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers only enhanced his draft status, and coach Yeng Guiao is keen on getting a guy of his caliber to add a different dimension to his team.
4.) TNT TROPANG GIGA — Mikey Williams
The situation surrounding Ray Parks Jr. prompted TNT to pull off the move where it was able to acquire the pick from NLEX in a three-way trade which also involved Blackwater. Williams could be the one who can pick up the slack left by Parks while also getting a chance to have a role Jayson Castro had in his younger days with skills that draws comparisons to Stanley Pringle coupled with a solid outside shooting.
5.) RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS — Santi Santillan
Point guard Jason Brickman would have been a perfect pick for Rain or Shine had it not been for incomplete documents that led to his removal from the list of applicants. With Brickman out, the Elasto Painters, despite in dire need of a point guard, should opt for the best available player in Santillan, a versatile forward who can play inside and outside and even bang bodies when needed. The former La Salle cager and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 veteran should make Rain or Shine forget Brickman’s absence.
6.) ALASKA ACES: Larry Muyang
Coach Jeffrey Cariaso said that a big man is something the Aces are hoping to have with Vic Manuel gone and Sonny Thoss heading towards retirement, and Muyang seems to be the prototypical big man they’ll need. Muyang can be a reliable low post player while also providing rebounds and muscle Alaska will sorely miss from Manuel.
7.) PHOENIX SUPER LPG FUEL MASTERS — Alvin Pasaol
Phoenix may have parted ways with Calvin Abueva got even stronger by using the trade to Magnolia to get Chris Banchero, Vic Manuel and this pick via separate trades. By moving up from 10th, the Fuel Masters will have a chance to get some of the top talent which includes Pasaol, who despite being undersized has a knack for embracing physicality underneath and decent shooting in the perimeter during his days with University of the East and Chooks 3×3.
8.) TERRAFIRMA DYIP — Ben Adamos
The Dyip got the pick from the Beermen as part of the Perez trade, and they may go for a big man in Adamos, who had a solid amateur career with San Beda and University of Perpetual Help in the NCAA and Bacolod in the MPBL. Adamos, standing at 6-foot-7, can be relied upon for his rebounding and defensive abilities which could pave the way for him to have a long PBA career.
9.) MERALCO BOLTS — Franky Johnson
Adamos would have been a good choice for the Bolts in order to provide Raymond Almazan some support in the middle. It wouldn’t hurt though if they’ll go with someone who can provide the scoring punch in Johnson, who displayed such during his time with Marinerong Pilipino and AMA in the D-League and in the 3×3 scene. The 6-foot-2 Johnson also has a good outside shooting which could help Meralco a great deal.
10.) MAGNOLIA — Troy Rike
No longer needing another guard to improve their already-talented backcourt crew, the Hotshots will likely go younger at the big man position with Rafi Reavis nearing his mid-40s and Marc Pingris contemplating retirement. Rike, the 6-foot-8 former Wake Forest player who had a one-year UAAP stop at National University before venturing into the 3×3 circuit, may be one of those frontline players who could fit the bill for Magnolia with his length.
11.) NORTHPORT — James Laput
With the Batang Pier having plenty of backcourt and wing players on their roster (including the recently-acquired Jerrick Balanza), the likelihood is for them to get a center. Laput, the 6-foot-10 Fil-Aussie who also played one season at La Salle and had short stints with Marinerong Pilipino and the Chooks 3×3, could likely end up as the best big available by the time NorthPort gets to choose though it may take some time before he can find his niche in the league.
12.) BARANGAY GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL — Jerrick Ahanmisi
The draft is something Ginebra can opt out if it wishes, given its deep talent that became stronger recently with the acquisition of Christian Standhardinger. But that won’t mean the Philippine Cup bubble champions are not going to take the draft seriously. Getting Ahanmisi, who showed what he can do offensively during his four-year collegiate career at Adamson, can give the Kings additional outside shooting.