Rene Pacquiao. Photo by Momn Rubio/Gatorade
Rapper Eminem once famously sang, “You only get one shot; do not miss your chance.”
While most PBA coaches will have their wish list among the rookie hopefuls in the upcoming annual draft, the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine is where they can get a first-hand look at those flying under the radar.
With only few slots open for the 95 draft applicants, this was a good chance for them to showcase their skills.
While some of the projected top picks – Stanley Pringle, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, and Gilas cadets Kevin Alas, Ronald Pascual, and Jake Pascual – were believed to take it easy and not go hard, some of the lesser known players seized the opportunity.
Several NAASCU stars in STI Olympian Mclean Sabellina, and University of Manila (UM) Hawks Jeff Viernes and Edmar Pateno had strong showings.
Sabellina, who last played for Boracay Rum in the D-League, dazzled the crowd with his athleticism as he scored 12 points (5 of 6 from the field), including a dunk in traffic off a spectacular feed by Philip Paniamogan.
Jumbo Plastic’s Viernes has the distinction of being one of a handful of college basketball players to lead two different colleges to titles. Viernes led UM to back-to-back NAASCU titles then transferred when the school closed down its athletic program. Viernes transferred to St. Clare where promptly led them to the 2013 NAASCU championship. During the draft combine, the high scoring point guard tallied nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal almost 19 minutes of play.
Pateno, who since 2011 has been playing in the commercial league circuit, also gave a good account of himself by scoring 11 points on four-for-five shooting from the field.
The General Santos native hoped he could land a spot on Manny Pacquiao’s KIA squad but he isn’t betting on it until it happens. “Importante ‘tong camp na to kasi nabigyan kami ng chance maipakita yung kaya namin.”
And speaking of Pacquiao, his 27-year 6-foot-5 cousin, Rene, is in the draft. The former Southwestern University Cobra scored two points on one-for-four shooting and grabbed two boards in 14 minutes of action. Rene, who briefly played for Hog’s Breath in the D-League, said that KIA will select him during the draft.
“Dream ng marami makalaro sa PBA,” said Rene who is currently staying at the boxing champion’s Forbes Park mansion. “Ang kailangan dito sa camp na ‘to hindi ka mahiyain. Pagkakataon ‘to.”
Anthony Semerad. Photo by Momn Rubio/Gatorade
However, it wasn’t only the unheralded who had stellar showings. San Beda Red Lion Anthony Semerad also had a solid outing with eight points, three rebounds, and one steal while playing terrific defense.
“I’m satisfied with what I showed the coaches,” noted the 6-foot-4 Fil-Australian forward.
“The scrimmages were characterized by great defense,” noted camp director Bong Ramos. “The applicants wanted to impress that they can be two-way players.”
Fil-Am players like Penn State’s Stanley Pringle (four points, six rebounds, one assist, and one steal), Cal State Polytechnic’s Matthew Ganuelas-Rosser (five points), for Asbury University Eagles guard Philip Aaron Morrison (four points, one rebound, and four assists) also impressed despite deliberately not going all out as they are assured of top spots in the upcoming Gatorade PBA Draft.
Before the draft hopefuls were put through their paces in the drills and scrimmage, PBA star Dondon Hontiveros wished the players good luck and even if they aren’t drafted, that it doesn’t mean their basketball dream isn’t over. They’ll just have to work harder and through the back door which means joining as a practice player. The Alaska Aces’ shooting guard noted that there are many players who were able to latch on the a team several years after their initial draft. “The important thing is not to give up,” said Hontiveros.
Notes: PBA coaches noted that four San Beda players arrived 20 minutes late for the camp: Anthony and David Semerad, as well as Jake and Kyle Pascual. “You have to take note also of the little things,” said a disappointed coach who requested anonymity. San Sebastian Stag Jonathan Semira was unable to attend because of an injury.