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2017 PBA Mock Draft

By Kristoffer Bellen

COMING off a momentous 2016-2017 season of the second longest running professional basketball league around the world, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will take a fresh restart as it will welcome a new set of neophytes to serve as the 43rd season’s batch of rookies that will aim to bring another dimension in the league.

Long before the first conference finally tips off, the whole management had already introduced various unexpected surprises that are sure to prevail in the up and coming edition of PBA – the latest of course is the approval of Commissioner Chito Narvasa on the draft day trade that will send KIA Picanto’s number one overall pick to perhaps one of the greatest team in modern day Philippine basketball, the San Miguel Beermen, in exchange for veteran players Ronald Tubid and Jay-R Reyes as well as sophomore Rashawn McCarthy and a future 2019 first round pick.

Above all the hype and the hate that the league is now receiving, the future still looks bright for all 12 PBA franchises as a bright group of 44 hopeful rookies are set to receive draft honors later at the Robinson’s Place Manila at 4:00 pm.

Given the names of those who made it to cut this year, here’s a possible scenario on how this year’s draft might look:

1.      San Miguel Beermen (from KIA Picanto) select Christian Standhardinger
Abante (file photo)
Of course.

No doubt the San Miguel won’t pass a guy like Christian Standhardinger.

The 6-foot-8 big man is maybe one of the less, if not the least, experienced in terms of playing Filipino basketball in this draft class but his first impression on how he pulled off a mighty stint with the Gilas Pilipinas in the William Jones Cup, FIBA Asia Cup, and in the 29th Southeast Asian Games as the country’s second naturalized player is enough to give the other teams a scare on how powerful the San Miguel Beermen could emerge to be this upcoming season.

Enough for the sorry comments for KIA. Enough for those what if’s. The real thing is now on SMB.

Although Standhardinger will derail his PBA debut as he is on a live contract with the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions at the Asean Basketball League (ABL), the force that he could bring unto the whole SMB squad is beyond human thinking. Imagine pairing up a frontline that will feature a four-time Most Valuable Player in June Mar Fajardo and a bouncy big man in Standhardinger, looks like the San Miguel group of companies will be colliding with twin towers (and, yes you’re right if you are thinking of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel).

2.      NLEX Road Warriors select Kiefer Ravena
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Accept the fact.

Kiefer Ravena has gone to be a basketball wiz and a young superstar. Maybe he is just too smart to think of delaying his arrival at the pro league to further solidify his status, perhaps, but the idea of honing his world-class talent led “The Phenom” to stand where he is at right now.

The Road Warriors is needing a new face that will be the heart and soul of their aging team. With at least two of its core players are already seasoned veterans in the PBA – including the immortal Asi Taulava and Cyrus Baguio – the Road Warriors are now in desperate need of a new face, although young guns like Kevin Alas and Juami Tiongson has the potential to transition as star guards in the future. Ravena could provide a much worthy hype for this team that is now likely fitting with the system of previously acquired coach Yeng Guiao.

How about naming the former UAAP Most Valuable Player the Lonzo Ball of the PBA with all of the expectations he is getting? I hope we’ll see Bong Ravena does it for us. #BigBallerBong

3.      Blackwater Elite select Jeron Teng
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Locked in him at third for the lowest pick that he can be.

Jeron Teng needs to be with the Blackwater Elite (or should I rather say, the Blackwater Elite needs Jeron Teng to be there).

Have everybody realized what the likes of Teng and former UAAP co-star Mac Belo can do for this young franchise that in a surprise, made it to the PBA Governor’s Cup Quarterfinals? No. Because, this team is much underrated. Before this team shipped Art dela Cruz into another’s boat, the Blackwater had already saw a promising star in Belo, who in his rookie year impressed everyone, only to be derailed by an unexpected injury in the middle of the season.

Belo lacks help.

In his first year as a professional player, the former FEU standout already proved himself as the center of offense of the Elite after scoring 239 points in the 21 games that he played before suffering an injury. Not only that Belo does it in the offensive end, but he remarkably puts up impressive numbers in defense, as well. As a rookie, he already averages 5.6 rebounds per game – a quite explosive statistic for an undersized power forward.

Pairing Teng with Belo, who is a tested a slasher that can penetrate at will and score buckets as well might make this young Blackwater team to tank this season.

4.      Phoenix Fuel Masters select Raymar Jose
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Raymar Jose is an underrated, overlooked star way back in college after living in the shadows of Ravena and Teng.

However, being a valuable part of the Gilas squad that competed in various winning competitions this year made Jose’s draft stock to rank third among the locally produced hopefuls in this year’s draft class.

The Fuel Masters are a run-and-gun team who maximizes their opportunities best at the rainbow territory thanks to a revamped and strengthened firepower from the addition of Jeff Chan and RJ Jazul in order to support the best shooter in the league right now in Matthew Wright. Last year, Phoenix made it to the first round of playoffs twice before falling short in the season-ending Governor’s Cup.

Choosing Jose in this year’s draft might become the answer on all of the struggles of Phoenix to push through the second round, and probably in the Finals. The 6-foot-4 forward could bring size and stretch to this Phoenix team who loves to catch and shoot the ball, especially now that the league is slowly adapting to the European basketball style of big men shooting from deep.

5.      Alaska Aces (from Globalport Batang Pier) select Jason Perkins
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With Sonny Thoss potentially retiring in a few years, the Alaska Aces needs to re-establish themselves as the league’s biggest team who used to bully other teams in the shaded lane before.

Gone were the days that the likes of Thoss, Joe Devance, and Tony Dela Cruz under the Tim Cone system in the early 2000’s pummeling the inside and making out smooth dimes, and as the Aces moved on to be one of the sloppiest teams in the previous season, it is by no wonder that this team needs to develop new players on big men.

Although the Alaska have a stacked depth in the front court with Thoss leading the way along with Nonoy Baclao, Marion Magat, and Yutien Andrada, these three guys have only seen less minutes because they adds no offensive scare but merely rim protection. But, that does not make as an issue for this squad who has a dependable forwards with “The Beast” Calvin Abueva and “Muscle Man” Vic Manuel, which are complemented by all-around player Carl Bryan Cruz.

Adding Perkins in that deep lineup of forwards who can shoot threes–except for an inconsistent shooter in Manuel–Alaska might have a shot with the way Perkins plays at the post and in face up. Perkins, who formed a short term Big Three of La Salle with Teng and Arnold Van Opstal before, the Hefty Lefty is one of the best players with basic fundamentals in the draft class.

6.      Globalport Batang Pier (from Alaska Aces) select Lervin Flores
Philippine Daily Inquirer (file photo)
A fast-paced Globalport Batang Pier ran by the dynamic duo of the next fast and furious combo of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle is always at the highlight reels in night in and out. But above the dominance of these two provide for Coach Franz Pumaren and company, the Globalport has still never won a championship despite being surrounded by flashy all-stars.

Apart from the surprise performance of Bradwyn Guinto last season, no other Batang Pier big man has leveled with the scoring display of their top two players. Putting an athletic Lervin Flores in the middle of the Globalport pack could even the chances of this team in neutralizing their mishaps at the inside.

Last conference, for instance, while the Globalport grabbed an average of 118.27 boards in 13 games, the Batang Pier shot 34.3% from the field – and their biggest flaw is in the rainbow country where they only converted 20.6% of their shots.

Given that this team who have a bad luck in shooting behind the three-point arc, having Flores inside the paint can provide efficient outputs for their team for the rest of the 2017-2018 season.

7.      Rain or Shine Elasto Painters select Rey Nambatac
Philippine Daily Inquirer (file photo)
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters witnessed a sad storyline in their last season when they parted ways with long time head coach Yeng Guiao, who gave them multiple titles, as well as the departure of stars Paul Lee, JR QuiƱahan, and Jeff Chan.

Despite however the arrival of all-around scorer and former PBA Most Valuable Player James Yap, the Elasto Painters have no doubt no weapons to unload their former guns in shooting a trifecta whenever and wherever they need to. Before, the Rain or Shine have seen massacred a number of teams with their unmatched three-point shooting.

Rey Nambatac maybe the answer to return that missing supremacy outside the arc.

While the likes of Art dela Cruz, Mark Cruz, Scottie Thompson, and Jio Jalalon, outshone his spotlight in the NCAA, Nambatac played impressive numbers for the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. After winning the championship for Letran along with Cruz, the Knights’ general led his team to another Final Four appearance in the NCAA Season 92 by averaging 20.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 steals.

8.      Phoenix Fuel Masters select Thomas Torres
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In 2015, Norbert Torres was drafted 8th overall by the Star Hotshots, and after two years, another Torres might come also in a position where he was used to before as the Phoenix Fuel Masters can acquire Thomas Torres as a worthy addition to their backcourt.

Playing in La Salle with a season-riddled injury in 2014, the younger Torres was a widely known facilitator and on-court general who can draw out the potential of other star players whenever he is on the court. For instance, in his five years of tenure as an Archer in the UAAP, Torres averaged 6.5 points and two assists with stars like Teng, Perkins, Van Opstal, and Ben Mbala on his command.

Should the Fuel Masters select Jose in the lottery and Torres at the expense of their 8th pick, expect the Fuel Masters to give up already on their seasoned players.

9.      Star Hotshots select Jett Manuel
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An interesting blow for the Star Hotshots gave them a payback for giving up Allein Maliksi, who at his early 30’s can undoubtedly match the hands of Fil-Canadian sniper Matthew Wright when on the zone.

The Hotshots had seemingly an ugly campaign to end the season as the slumping team of Coach Chito Victolero struggled to find scorers with Lee, Peter June Simon, and Ian Sanggalang doing all-out when starting but the bench cannot capitalize.

However, former UP team captain Jett Manuel can fit with the needs of Star as the future lone playing engineer of the country can provide a spark plug off the bench and fit with the pass-first guard Jalalon.

10. TNT KaTropa select Renz Palma
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What a difference a year makes for the TNT KaTropa.

This season, they gave up with long-time ace Ranidel de Ocampo who led the former Talk N Text Tropang Texters in a championship against the Rain or Shine Elast Painter in a Best-of-Seven thriller at the 2015 Commissioners Cup. Not only did the KaTropa gave up de Ocampo but their baby-face assassin and sniper Larry Fonacier was also traded for Anthony Semerad in a controversial four-team trade.

Although future stars like Troy Rosario, Rookie of the Year RR Pogoy, and former number 1 pick Moala Tautuaa seem to be the next big thing in TNT, they have indeed imbalance in their guard spot as the aging Jayson Castro has yet to rediscover his touch and speed.

The KaTropa failed against the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel in the Governor’s Cup but choosing Emil Palma right here might create another story of title redemption for the TNT who last won their championship two years ago as the University of the East point guard can re-establish the fast-paced game of the then explosive TNT.

11. Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel select Ervin Grospe
Philippine Daily Inquirer (file photo)
What can the back-to-back Governor’s Cup champions ask for when they have one of the most formidable rosters in the league right now?

Of course, there’s more for them to offer.

A returning Greg Slaughter towered over all other his co-stars as he bounced back from a year-long injury with a Best Player of the Conference Award and a maiden championship. LA Tenorio and Joe Devance are always the key players of Tim Cone’s systematic way of running the offense and defense. Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson completes this team’s ability to contend.

But, with an injury facing their backup guard Sol Mercado and the possibility of Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa already putting it in the books, the Barangay shall already be looking for a potential guard for the future starting this draft – and the best possible option is NCAA standout John Grospe who indeed became the focal point of the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers in his tenure there. No doubt Tenorio will hone him to be an efficient on-court manager in the future.

12. TNT KaTropa select Davon Potts
Sports Gateway (file photo)
Selecting late in the last three picks of the first round sure is a hard thing for the KaTropa but this team could find the best sleepers in the draft – and that includes Davon Potts from the San Beda Red Lions.

As an experienced NCAA champion, the former Red Lion is one of the most expected to be pick in a surprise in the first round and should the TNT pick him, they can further add another pesky two-way player who can guard both 1 and 2 as well as have the ability to get caught on fire.

The grit and grind mentality of Potts will earn him in this PBA Draft, and that is for sure.

The views and opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of Dugout Philippines.

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