Ginebra fans at Robinsons Midtown Manila began to scream in anticipation when PBA commissioner Chito Salud began to announce the team’s draft pick at No. 6: “Barangay Ginebra San Miguel selects Chris…”
The diehards inside the mall were expecting their favorite team to pick the popular Chris Tiu. Instead, in a letdown, the squad selected a different Chris altogether: Chris Ellis.
Before the draft, Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen expressed his interest in picking Tiu. “I hope Chris Tiu will still be available,” Tanquingcen told InterAKTV last Thursday, adding that he was hoping to get a guard to boost the squad.
Ginebra did end up with guards, but none of them were surnamed Tiu. The team drafted six players: Ellis, Keith Jensen, and point guards Jerick Canada, Paul Zamar, JR Buensuceso, and Elliot Tan.
Management and staff of Ginebra neither entertained phone calls nor replied from text message inquiries from InterAKTV after the draft.
But Ginebra was not the only crowd favorite to pass on Tiu. B-MEG actually had a shot at picking Chris Tiu because it eventually traded for the No. 5 pick in the draft, one spot ahead of Ginebra.
Instead, the Llamados ended up with Aldrech Ramos, a sweet-shooting forward who played with Tiu with the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team.
B-MEG coach Tim Cone was more forthcoming in explaining why his team passed on Tiu.
“We already have three point guards on our team,” Cone said, referring to Josh Urbiztondo, Jonas Villanueva, and Mark Barroca. The American coach said that Tiu would have been an option for them if they had moved one of their point guards.
But Cone added that he was happy with the Ramos pick.
“When he was with Gilas, he would always kill us when we played them,” said Cone. “We saw him in two scrimmages before the draft and we were impressed. He could stretch the floor and he could rebound, even though he’s thin.”
Cone added that getting young up front was a priority for the Llamados.
“Rafi [Reavis] is 35, Yancy [De Ocampo] is 32. They’re getting up there (in age),” said Cone. The Llamados drafted big men Ramos, Jewel Ponferrada, and Gian Chiu before taking guard Ramon Mabayo in the fourth round.
But if there’s a team that’s delighted by the decisions of B-MEG and Ginebra, it’s Rain or Shine, who happily took Tiu with the seventh overall pick.
“After the draft, people are not talking about the No. 1 or No. 2 pick,” said Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao. “People are talking about Chris Tiu.”
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