After finally declaring for the PBA, Chris Tiu is suddenly on the radar of two teams picking atop the draft.
San Miguel Corporation executive Noli Eala said picking Tiu, one of the most popular players in the country, is a possibility. The Petron Blaze Boosters, an SMC team, own two of the top three picks in the draft.
“We’ve got to move some pieces, but not a bad idea,” Eala wrote in a text message to InterAKTV. Earlier, Eala said the team was using the first overall pick on June Mar Fajardo, a 6-foot-10 center who spent the last season with San Miguel, another SMC squad, in the ABL.
But Alaska, the team that picks second overall, is also interested in the former SMART-Gilas Pilipinas team captain.
“Definitely, he will be an asset,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo. “Talent-wise, we’re thinking of picking either Calvin Abueva or Cliff Hodge, but in terms of need, we might consider picking up Chris Tiu.”
There are questions about how Tiu, a 27-year-old combo guard, could adjust to the PBA game. But according to basketball experts, his popularity could offset a team’s concerns about his talent.
“Aside from the fact that Chris is a very fierce competitor, he has the skills to be a very exciting player,” said former Powerade coach Bo Perasol. “Likewise, he has the mass appeal to add flavor to the PBA.”
The Tigers had two first round picks in last year’s draft, and Perasol said that if Tiu had turned pro, the team would have used one of those picks on the ex-Ateneo stalwart.
Powerade ended up picking Tiu’s former SMART-Gilas teammates, JVee Casio at No. 1 and Marcio Lassiter at No. 4. The Tigers also hired Tiu’s younger brother Charles as an assistant coach.
Meralco, which picks fourth overall, is still mulling its plans for the upcoming draft, But team executive Mon Segismundo, who represents Meralco on the PBA Board of Governors, said Tiu is a very tempting option.
“We haven’t completed our process of selection yet because we still don’t have the full list of applicants in the draft,” said Segismundo. “But Chris is certainly one that can add value to any team.”
The draft is slated August 19, 4 p.m. at Robinsons Midtown Manila.
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