Last year, some 71 players filed their applications for the rookie draft. This year’s class topped that easily, with 85 players filing their paperwork to join the PBA.
With less than a week before the draft, InterAKTV is back with its series of mock drafts to try to make sense of what’s happening. Every day, we will release a new mock draft after talking to coaches, team officials, and agents about their prospects for Sunday’s event.
1. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel – Greg Slaughter
(originally from Air 21)
Welcome to our family WE ARE ONE! NSD pic.twitter.com/mlyAr1aIu7
— alfrancis chua (@alfrancischua) October 27, 2013
In a way, picking Greg Slaughter would be a reaction to the dominance shown by June Mar Fajardo during the recently-concluded Governors’ Cup finals; at this point, Ginebra fans would probably revolt if their team didn’t select their own giant.
It’s unfair to compare Slaughter to Fajardo, given that the Petron big man already has a year in the PBA under his belt. It’s hard to get a handle on how good Slaughter is going to be coming out of the gate. He was solid for Ateneo, but he did it against inferior competition in the UAAP; he wasn’t nearly as effective in the PBA D-League, coming up against better players.
Interestingly, the last time the Gin Kings had the No. 1 overall pick, they selected another giant, Marlou Aquino. That was a great pick, as Aquino emerged as a Most Valuable Player candidate right in his first year, before leading Ginebra to a title in his second year.
Of course, the season before Ginebra drafted Aquino, they selected EJ Feihl with the No. 2 pick, ahead of more talented prospects such as Kenneth Duremdes and Jeffrey Cariaso. Ginebra fans would hope that Slaughter’s impact would be closer to Aquino’s rather than Feihl’s.
Best case scenario: A young Marlou Aquino
Worst case scenario: A young EJ Feihl
2. San Mig Coffee Mixers – Ian Sangalang
(originally from GlobalPort)
Ian Sangalang has everything a coach would want in a big man — size and length, footwork, timing, passing skills, a mid-range jumper, and an ability to run the floor. He’s also three years younger than Slaughter, even though he’s shorter by a few inches.
But the best thing about Sangalang is that even though he has great finesse skills, he’s not afraid of mixing it up down low. He has also shown the ability to shine despite playing with other talented teammates — he routinely put up monster rebounding numbers while playing alongside Calvin Abueva at San Sebastian and won MVP honors in the PBA D-League while splitting center duties with Greg Slaughter.
His skillset is perfect for Tim Cone’s triangle offense, although it remains to be seen how much playing time he’ll get right off the bat given the Mixers’ crowded frontcourt. But if he ends up with the Mixers, he’d easily be the most talented big man Cone has drafted since Sonny Thoss, and we all know how well that turned out.
Best case scenario: A left-handed Danny Ildefonso
Worst case scenario: A left-handed Chris Cantonjos
3. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – Raymond Almazan
(originally from Barako Bull)
Raymond Almazan has emerged as the best big man in Philippine college basketball this season after showing great form on both ends of the floor for the Letran Knights. While he has always been a dominant defender, he has really come on strong this year on the offensive end.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Almazan is his motor; he’s relentless off the boards despite his thin frame. That has allowed him to be a devastating offensive rebounder, even as he has begun to show an improved offensive arsenal, including the occasional three-point shot.
At Letran, he plays under coach Caloy Garcia, who also happens to be Yeng Guiao’s top assistant at Rain or Shine. He’ll still get pushed around in the PBA until he bulks up, but he’ll get plenty of practice with that when joins the Elasto Painters frontline that already features Extra Rice, Inc.
Best case scenario: A nastier Rafi Reavis
Worst case scenario: A nastier Omanzie Rodriguez
4. Barako Bull Energy – Terrence Romeo
(originally from Ginebra)
First, a note about Barako Bull: the past two years, the team has pulled off a draft-day deal to trade their first round pick. In 2011, Barako Bull’s third overall pick (Chris Lutz) ended up with Petron. In 2012, the team’s fifth overall pick (Aldrech Ramos) was sent to San Mig Coffee. With three first round picks this year, it’s almost a sure bet that Barako Bull will be involved in a trade.
That said, Romeo is the best talent at this spot. And this isn’t just a product of his stellar numbers in the UAAP, where he won Most Valuable Player honors; even before that, he was killing it against superior competition in the PBA D-League.
There remain questions about Romeo’s maturity. But consider the fact that, at 21 years old, he’s the youngest player in the draft, so he’s got plenty of time to get it together. Right now, he’s a rare talent who can put up big numbers right from Day One.
Best case scenario: Peter June Simon
Worst case scenario: Joseph Yeo
5. Barako Bull Energy – RR Garcia
(originally from Petron)
It’s hard to project exactly how well RR Garcia’s game will translate to the PBA. He isn’t a deadeye three-point shooter like Jimmy Alapag or JVee Casio. Neither does he have the athleticism of guys like Jayson Castro or Mark Barroca.
But instead of having just one elite skill, he does everything pretty well. He has good size, has experience playing both guard positions, and plays defense well when he’s interested. He’s seasoned enough to step in and be part of the rotation of any PBA team.
Best case scenario: Mike Cortez
Worst case scenario: Bonbon Custodio
6. Barako Bull Energy – Jeric Teng
(originally from Meralco)
You know what would be hilarious? If Barako Bull drafted Romeo, Garcia, and Nico Salva and kept all of them. That would instantly be the most bro-tastic trio in the league, given the history among those three men.
But it’d be hard to pass up on Jeric Teng at this spot, especially with his stock at a high after his great performance in the UAAP finals. Teng could put up points with the best of them — he was also one of the best scorers in the D-League — but there remain questions about his size to play shooting guard at the next level, which could hamper him on the defensive end.
Best case scenario: Gary David
Worst case scenario: Ren-Ren Ritualo, post-prime
7. Globalport Batang Pier – James Forrester
(originally from Talk ‘N Text)
Arellano star James Forrester has PBA-level size and athleticism, and he might be higher up on this list if he had played for a more popular school. As it is, we wouldn’t be surprised if he moves up.
He was hampered by an injury during this past NCAA campaign, which might hurt his stock. But coaches probably remember his performance in the D-League, where he showcased his handles and his outside shooting against better competition.
Best case scenario: Marcio Lassiter
Worst case scenario: A taller Chris Timberlake
8. Alaska Aces – Nico Salva
In college and the D-League, Salva proved that he can put the ball in the hoop. But the biggest concerns about the former Ateneo star will be his ability to defend at the next level.
In the amateurs, he played the power forward position, where he defended smaller post players. In the PBA, he will have to move to the wings, and the big question about Salva is whether he has the lateral quickness to stay with faster players on the perimeter.
If he couldn’t convince coaches that he could do that, then we wouldn’t be surprised if he somehow drops on the list.
Best case scenario: Tony Dela Cruz
Worst case scenario: Rich Alvarez, post-knee injury
9. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – Alex Nuyles
We were cool on Alex Nuyles a couple of days before we started writing this list, but a couple of coaches we spoke to rated the former Adamson wingman highly. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia, in fact, went out on a limb and said that Nuyles could be a potential first-rounder.
An athletic, rugged guard who could get hot from the outside and isn’t afraid of getting physical, Nuyles would be a great fit for a Rain or Shine squad full of rugged players.
Best case scenario: Ronald Tubid, without the flopping
Worst case scenario: Jimbo Aquino
10. San Mig Coffee – Justin Chua
Justin Chua played himself into first round contention with his performance in the D-League finals, where he helped Blackwater end NLEX’s title reign. He has PBA size along with a nice midrange jumper, and he has a nice enough stroke that it’s not hard to imagine him developing a three-point shot later on.
It’s not hard to imagine him ending up at San Mig Coffee at this spot, because Tim Cone loves picking big men — last year, he took Aldrech Ramos and Jewel Ponferrada in the draft. We also remember that one year when Cone drafted Ken Bono and JR Quinahan with back-to-back first round picks for Alaska.
Best case scenario: A left-handed JR Quinahan
Worst case scenario: A left-handed Ken Bono
11. Globalport Batang Pier – Robby Celiz
Robby Celiz is one of those handful of guys who had a quiet UAAP career before blossoming in the commercial leagues. Along with Chua, he was one of Blackwater’s heroes in the finals, outplaying some of the bigger names from the NLEX side.
A versatile forward who can score inside and out, we wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in the first round when all is said and done.
Best case scenario: Ronnie Matias
Worst case scenario: Chito Jaime
12. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – Isaac Holstein
(originally from Air 21)
Isaac Holstein attended Rain or Shine practice last week, and coach Yeng Guiao saw him as a project player. The coach added that the team could pick Holstein if he were the best talent available at No. 9.
That won’t be the case in this draft, but Holstein could end up being the best prospect available at No. 12. A beanpole who can block shots and hit midrange jumpers, he’s not nearly ready to play in the PBA, but he’ll get a team to take a flyer on him just based on potential.
Best case scenario: A skinnier, right-handed Yancy De Ocampo
Worst case scenario: A skinnier, right-handed Magi Sison
13. San Mig Coffee – Carlo Lastimosa
(originally from Barako Bull)
Taking Carlo Lastimosa here could be a reach, but coach Tim Cone has already indicated that San Mig Coffee might not even make a second round pick.
Two things could work for Lastimosa at this spot. The first is that his college coach, Richard del Rosario, is an assistant for the Mixers. The second is that the last Cone coached a team with a Lastimosa in the lineup, he ended up winning a lot of championships.
Best case scenario: Ronjay Buenafe
Worst case scenario: Reed Juntilla
14. Barako Bull Energy – Jeric Fortuna
(originally from Ginebra)
We’ve spoken to a couple of coaches who think Fortuna is a candidate to go in the first round, but the teams that need a point guard either have high enough picks to select better prospects (i.e. Barako Bull) or does not have a first round pick (i.e. Air 21).
Then again, there could be a shakeup in the draft order, and Fortuna could end up higher. If he ends up in the middle of the second round, he could be this year’s Emman Monfort.
Best case scenario: A poor man’s LA Tenorio
Worst case scenario: TY Tang
15. Alaska Aces – Eric Camson
(originally from Petron)
Despite being undersized, Eric Camson battled bigger men in the UAAP and the D-League on a nightly basis and held his own. He has a nice jumper that extends to the three-point line and he knows how to play a role, having played for the star-studded NLEX Road Warriors in the D-League.
Best case scenario: A poor man’s Mac Baracael
Worst case scenario: A poor man’s Elmer Espiritu
16. Air 21 Express – Justin Melton
(originally from Meralco)
A Filipino-American born in Angeles City, Melton spent the past season with the Westports Malaysia Dragons in the ASEAN Basketball League. He displayed great flashes of athleticism and could move up in the board if he impresses teams during workouts. He could be an option for the Express, a team in great need of point guard help after trading Mike Cortez last conference.
Best case scenario: A poor man’s Jayson Castro
Worst case scenario: Joey Mente
17. Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters – Ryan Buenafe
Ryan Buenafe is one of the most intriguing prospects on the list. He has the skills and the basketball IQ, but there will always be questions about his shape after battling weight issues in college. Talk ‘N Text, where he could reunite with his college coach Norman Black, could be the perfect landing spot for Buenafe.
Best case scenario: A much bulkier Larry Fonacier
Worst case scenario: A much shorter Beau Belga
18. Alaska Aces – Nate Matute
Alaska assistant coach Alex Compton compared Matute to Josh Urbiztondo, although the former Jose Rizal University hotshot does not have the jets or the handles of the Ginebra guard. He’s a little bigger though, and his ability to put the ball in the hoop could end up being a real asset on the right team.
Best case scenario: A taller, slower Josh Urbiztondo
Worst case scenario: Benedict Fernandez
19. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – Eloy Poligrates
Cebuano playground legend Eloy Poligrates is finally entering the draft after a couple of conferences in the PBA D-League. He has a bit of a cult following from his hometown, drawing favorable comparisons to another mercurial Cebuano point guard, Jimwell Torion.
It’d be apt if he ended up on a team with Torion’s old PBA coach, Yeng Guiao.
Best case scenario: A taller Jimwell Torion
Worst case scenario: A taller Michael Manigo
20. Barako Bull Energy – JR Cawaling
(originally from San Mig Coffee)
An original member of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team, JR Cawaling’s stock has dropped steadily through the years. Last year, he pulled out of the draft to sign with the San Miguel Beermen in the ASEAN Basketball League, where he barely made an impact. But there have been former UAAP star wingmen — Jeff Chan and Larry Fonacier come to mind — who dropped all the way to the second round only to end up blossoming in the PBA.
Best case scenario: A right-handed Jeff Chan
Worst case scenario: A right-handed RJ Rizada