Stanley Pringle is this year's top draft pick. Photo by Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBNnews.com
In what promises to be a year of change for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), perhaps nothing can symbolize that so soon as the 2014 PBA Draft.
Three teams are entering the league as it prepares to celebrate its 40th year, and a bumper crop of rookies made themselves available for the record 12 teams that will compete next season, including the oldest rookie ever (who just happens to be an eight-division champion in boxing).
Even as newcomers Kia Motors and Blackwater planned on using the draft to build their individual rosters, fellow rookie team NLEX smartly just purchased the Air 21 franchise to get around the league’s “Protect 12” policy. This meant that instead of just settling for the scraps of the existing PBA teams, NLEX was able to absorb the core of Air 21, including Asi Taulava, Mac Cardona, and Aldrech Ramos.
Since the PBA was not going to allow NLEX to elevate their own players from the PBA D-League, team owner Manny V. Pangilinan was still able to secure a competitive core for Coach Boyet Fernandez to handle.
The top two
Leading into this year’s draft at the Robinsons Place Manila, there were rumors that top Fil-American prospect Stanley Pringle was asking for an extravagant amount from the team poised to pick him, GlobalPort. Perhaps finally realizing that asking for anything beyond the rookie salary cap would be akin to breaking league rules, Pringle’s management was able to clarify things and paved the way for the Batang Pier to choose the 6-foot-1 former Indonesia Warrior of the ASEAN Basketball League.
What followed next was the first of a few draft day surprises. After Rain or Shine star guard Paul Lee’s public request for a trade, the Elasto Painters had to scramble before selecting second in the draft.
Though initially expected to choose Fil-Italian Chris Banchero, it was an open secret that RoS coach Yeng Guiao wanted a quality big man to help undersized Beau Belga and JR Quinahan, and waif-thin Raymond Almazan in the paint. But because of Lee’s baffling desire for a move out of the Asian Coatings Philippines franchise, Guiao had to change plans. Thus, the Elasto Painters chose former Letran Knight and Gilas-Pilipinas guard Kevin Alas as number two overall.
SMB trades up, SMC trades out
At third, San Miguel Beer made a big move to get into the first round. New SMC coach Leo Austria traded away Jojo Duncil, Chico Lanete, a 2014 second round pick, and a first round pick in 2016 to Barako Bull. The Beermen then chose former NCAA champion Ronald Pascual, completing the entry of the “Pinatubo trio” from San Sebastian College in the PBA that included 2012 Rookie of the Year Calvin Abueva and 2013 number two overall pick Ian Sangalang.
NLEX’s first pick in its PBA existence was a familiar name as they drafted the athletic Matthew Ganuelas from their D-League team at number four.
In what was an unexpected fall from the top of the draft, Banchero fell to an Alaska Aces team that eagerly added the tall point guard to its backcourt rotation.
Crowd darlings Barangay Ginebra added another big man to its frontline by making former Adamson Falcon Rodney Brondial as the sixth overall selection.
Grand Slam champions San Mig Coffee, perhaps recognizing their loaded roster and looking to the future, traded their spot at seventh to GlobalPort for a 2016 first round pick and a 2018 second round selection. Thus, what was to be SMC’s pick went to GlobalPort and became the first of the Semerad twins from San Beda, Anthony.
His brother David would go to Barako Bull at 10th overall. Another Lion, Jake Pascual, was chosen eighth, also by Barako Bull.
Drafting a Pacman
The number nine selection was a source of intrigue weeks before the draft due to RoS coach Guiao’s intentions. Ever aware of the marketing potential of a new hire, Guiao stated that he was considering drafting eight-time boxing champion Manny Pacquiao at that spot, despite the fact that Kia had already named the “Pambansang Kamao” as their player-coach.
Guiao reasoned that just having Pacquiao holding a Rain or Shine paint can was sure to generate revenue, and that Kia could offer something to RoS as means of compensation for their coach.
However, Guiao was prevailed upon by Pacquiao and Columbian Autocar Corporation owner Pepito Alvarez to not choose “the Pacman” at the last minute. Instead, the Elasto Painters drafted former Adamson scorer Jericho Cruz.
As expected, Kia (now to be known as the Sorentos) drafted Pacquiao at 11th to the howls of the Robinsons Place crowd.
Blackwater closed the first round by picking former Ateneo playmaker Juami Tiongson as their first selection.
Second round selections
The second round opened with Alaska selecting yet another former Red Lion, Rome de la Rosa, son of former Formula Shell Turbocharger Romy de la Rosa. Former Mapua Cardinal Kevin Espinosa then went to Rain or Shine while former De La Salle Green Archer Papot Paredes joined Barako Bull.
Kevin Alas’ brother Junjun joined their father, Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas, on the Aces. Prince Caperal of Arellano University was selected by GlobalPort at 17th overall, followed by a Fil-Am guard from Asbury University, Philip Morrison, going to Kia.
Another former Arellano Chief, John Pinto, also went to the Batang Pier, before Talk ‘N Text finally made a selection with Harold Arboleda of Perpetual Help at number 20. Rain or Shine then took a gamble with undersized point guard Mike Gamboa from the University of the Philippines, even as former Mapua and La Salle swingman Gab Banal went to Barako Bull.
Banal’s cousin, former Ateneo center Frank Golla, went to Blackwater even as Kyle Pascual of San Beda ended the second round by going to Kia.
The rest of the draft would be left to Kia and Blackwater to make selections as they attempted to fill out their respective rosters.