With 71 draft applicants, the 2012 PBA Rookie Draft is one of the most talent-laden in years. It also figures to be one of the most unpredictable, with June Mar Fajardo the only certain pick in the draft after Petron declared that it will pick him first overall. After that, it’s a total crapshoot.
Every day, InterAKTV will release a new mock draft after talking to coaches, team officials, and agents about their prospects for this Sunday’s event.
1. June Mar Fajardo – Petron
The last time the San Miguel franchise had the first overall pick, they had also drafted a center; it was 1998, and his name was Danny Ildefonso. He ended up winning two Most Valuable Player awards and eight titles with the team.
No one expects Fajardo, a 6-foot-10 center out of University of Cebu who saw limited action for the San Miguel Beermen in the ASEAN Basketball League, to be a next Demolition Man. But they hope he blossoms into the team’s answer at center for the next decade.
Ceiling: A taller Sonny Thoss
Floor: A right-handed Yancy De Ocampo, without the three-point shooting
2. Cliff Hodge – Alaska
We’ve been hearing that Alaska coach Luigi Trillo is leaning toward picking Cliff Hodge over San Sebastian superstar Calvin Abueva. Among other things, Hodge apparently fits the wholesome Alaska mold better than the fiery Abueva, who has gotten into trouble in the past because of his fiery temperament.
Hodge is an energy guy and a blue-collar player in the mold of Rudy Hatfield, which isn’t a bad pick for Alaska. But many things could still change between now and Sunday. Or it could even be a smokescreen; maybe the Aces are keeping their cards close to their chest.
Ceiling: Rudy Hatfield
Floor: Harvey Carey
3. Calvin Abueva – Petron
It makes sense to assume that Petron will take whoever Alaska doesn’t choose with the second pick. But while either Abueva or Hodge are both tantalizing prospects, it’s also a curious position since they both play the same position as Arwind Santos or Jay Washington. Of course, in the PBA draft, anything could happen, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a major trade happens on the floor.
Interestingly, we spoke to a team insider who said that if it were up to him, he’d take Chris Tiu with this pick. After all, he said, if there were a team who could afford to take a character guy over a talented guy, it’s Petron.
Ceiling: A cross between Arwind Santos and Jayson Castro
Floor: A cross between Gabby Espinas and Topex Robinson
4. Chris Tiu – Meralco
We know Meralco is enamored with the idea of having Tiu suit up for the squad. It’d draw an interesting parallel for the team signing the league’s top glamour just like its UFL counterpart, the Loyola Meralco Sparks, which employs the Younghusband brothers.
We also know that there is some resistance from some Meralco basketball personnel who think the Bolts could grab better talent at this spot.
What we don’t know is how Tiu will fare in the PBA. We think that even though he’s played two-guard for most of his career, he’s best suited for the point in the league, where his basketball IQ, toughness, and size makes him a solid option. A tall point guard from Ateneo who wears No. 17, makes great decisions, and whose leadership provides so much value beyond the numbers — now why does that sound so familiar?
Ceiling: Olsen Racela
Floor: Luis Manzano, as a television show host
5. Alex Mallari – Barako Bull
For those who aren’t familiar with his game, Alex Mallari is a tall, left-handed forward with great handles who attacks the rim fearlessly. He reminds everyone of Jared Dillinger, though he’s not quite as polished or as good a three-point shooter as the Talk ‘N Text daredevil. But we love his competitive streak, and at least one PBA insider we’ve spoken to thinks that he’s actually better than Hodge.
Ceiling: Jared Dillinger when he’s playing well
Floor: Jared Dillinger when he’s playing poorly
6. Chris Ellis – Barangay Ginebra
Ellis has breathtaking athleticism, which makes him an interesting prospect. But there are those in PBA circles who are concerned that he’s a perimeter player who hasn’t shown the range or consistency to knock down shots.
Given Ginebra’s lineup and the fact that the squad has another first round pick, we wouldn’t be surprised if the team goes in another direction or if this pick is traded.
Ceiling: JC Intal
Floor: Mike Burtscher
7. Keith Jensen – Rain or Shine
Jensen is a tough banger who manages to dominate the boards despite being a bit undersized. Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said that the might end up trading the pick, and we hear that the Elasto Painters are currently fielding offers for it. Still, if Rain or Shine decides to stay put, they will end up with a really good player this late in the draft.
Ceiling: Doug Kramer
Floor: A taller Jerwin Gaco, without the fans club
8. Vic Manuel – Barangay Ginebra
Manuel has won Most Valuable Player awards in both the Philippine Basketball League and the PBA D-League. He’s a talented, dynamic if a bit undersized scorer, who has the body to withstand the physical rigors of the PBA. There are nagging questions about his professionalism, after he no-showed practices for the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas squad to the recent Southeast Asian Basketball Association Cup competition
Ceiling: A smaller, quicker Ranidel De Ocampo
Floor: Ronnie Matias
9. Ronald Pascual – B-MEG
Pascual is the most gifted scorer in the draft. He can make it rain from beyond the arc, come off screens to pop mid-range jumpers, and go all the way to the hoop to dunk in people’s faces. He also has good size — in person, he’s actually taller than Abueva. We won’t be surprised if his stock ends up rising over the next few days. It would be an absolute gift for B-MEG if he actually falls this low.
Ceiling: A bigger, nastier Dondon Hontiveros
Floor: A bigger, nastier Leo Avenido
10. Aldrech Ramos – GlobalPort
It’d be a nice homecoming for Aldrech Ramos if he does end up with the Mikee Romero-owned GlobalPort. After all, he has spent time playing for Romero’s Philippine Patriots in the ABL and Harbour Centre in the PBL.
He has a nice outside jumper and he blocks shots, although questions remain if he’s big enough to withstand the nightly banging in the PBA.
Ceiling: JR Quinahan, if Quinahan ordered half-rice instead of extra rice in all his meals since childhood
Floor: Rysal Castro
11. Dave Marcelo – Air 21 (from Alaska)
He has developed his offensive game in San Beda, but his calling card has always been defense. Marcelo is a great weak side shot blocker who should bring toughness and swagger for an Air 21 squad that needs help at all positions.
Ceiling: Rob Reyes
Floor: Gilbert Lao
12. Yousef Taha – B-MEG (from Barako Bull acquired from Air 21)
In 2004, Tim Cone struck gold when he drafted Sonny Thoss, who blossomed into a star for Alaska. Since then, he has drafted centers Mark Kong, Ken Bono, and JR Quinahan, and acquired Sam Eman and Jay-Reyes. In his first season with B-MEG, he took on the challenge of molding Yancy De Ocampo, who became a valuable contributor.
What we’re trying to say is that Cone likes the challenge of trying to develop big men, and a project like the 6-foot-8 Taha, who played one season with Mapua, may be right up his alley.
Ceiling: Jay-R Reyes
Floor: Ervin Sotto
13. Mark Jeffries – B-MEG (from Barako Bull)
Jeffries isn’t the most talented player. He’s not a particularly good shooter or ballhandler, but he’s able to make his contributions on the court by busting his ass, which is always a trait that coaches love.
Ceiling: Jireh Ibanes
Floor: Mark Agustin, if his father weren’t a PBA coach
14. Kelly Nabong – GlobalPort (from Meralco)
Nabong shone in his last D-League stint, averaging a double-double for Blackwater. He might be a good option for GlobalPort, which needs a bit more toughness and ceiling down low.
Ceiling: Billy Mamaril
Floor: Manny Ramos
15. Lester Alvarez – Barako Bull (from Petron)
Alvarez has one of the quickest triggers at the point guard position, although there are questions about whether he’ll be athletic enough to stay in front of his man at the PBA level. Barako Bull is in need of a point guard, although they might address that need in a trade on or before Sunday.
Ceiling: Celino Cruz
Floor: Al Vergara
16. JR Cawaling – Barako Bull (from Powerade)
What do Cesar Catli, RJ Rizada, Jeff Chan, and JR Cawaling have in common? They are all three-point swingmen who played college ball at FEU. Catli, Rizada, and Chan all ended up as second-round picks in the PBA, and Cawaling figures to join them in that list.
(Amazingly, it was Chan who was picked lowest overall at 17th in 2008; he was the Most Improved Player last season and made it to the Second Mythical Team.) Whoever ends up picking Cawaling will probably be hoping that he ends up like Chan and not Catli or Rizada.
Ceiling: Jeff Chan
Floor: Cesar Catli
17. Jewel Ponferrada – Rain or Shine
Ponferada played a major role in Big Chill’s run to the finals in the last D-League tournament, and he has shown much improvement since his days at National University. An unheralded big man who shows skill and smarts is right up Yeng Guiao’s wheelhouse.
Ceiling: Larry Rodriguez
Floor: Erick Rodriguez
18. Raphy Reyes – Barako Bull (from Ginebra)
Reyes, the son of former San Miguel star Elmer, grew in skill and confidence by leaps and bounds this past season in the D-League. He’s very athletic and shows little fear in attacking the basket and getting up on his man. If PBA scouts actually break down tape from D-League games, we won’t be surprised if he ends up higher up this list.
Ceiling: Chico Lanete
Floor: Marcy Arellano
19. Janus Lozada – Alaska (from Barako Bull acquired from B-MEG)
Lozada knows his role and doesn’t try to do too much, which might be his ticket for a PBA spot. He has good size, takes good shots, plus he played for Cebuana Lhuillier for a bit under Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, which couldn’t hurt.
Ceiling: Aaron Aban
Floor: Jim Bruce Viray
20. Emman Monfort – Talk ‘N Text
The incoming coach of the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters: Norman Black.
Ceiling: A smaller Josh Urbiztondo
Floor: Jai Reyes