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2018 PBA Mock Draft

These guys are ready to take the next step. PBA Media Group (file photo)

By Ivan Saldajeno

AS awkward as it can be, the Philippine Basketball Association is going to have its annual draft right in the middle of a finals series.

But regardless on when it will be scheduled, the draft will surely happen as a new batch of players adding color to the top-flight club cagefest will come your way.

With that, here comes our mock draft.

Same rules as before: I will tell who should each team pick and possible sleepers.

1. Columbian: CJ Perez
Nikki Collantes (file photo)
Well, Columbian already has its sight set on the former Lyceum King Pirate at number one since last October, so this should be a lock at this point. Anyway, many think Perez has more upsides than Ray-Ray Parks, who they believe is too ripe for the PBA already considering that he has been a pro for years.

Sleeper: If the Dyip make a last-second flip on Sunday, then Parks fits the bill, although they may need to wait for the ASEAN Basketball League season to end.

2. Blackwater: Ray-Ray Parks
ABL (file photo)
Another lock (not as sure though as to be discussed in the sleeper part) as Blackwater has also made its intent known before. As aforementioned, Parks is the most PBA-ready guy in the class considering that he has been playing club basketball for years already, from the PBA D-League to the NBA G-League to the ABL to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League and to the ABL again. However, the team will have to wait possibly until May for Parks to become available. In fact, we will not see him on Sunday in the draft proper as he joined his Alab Pilipinas teammates in Surabaya for an ABL game against the CLS Knights.

Sleeper: That leads us to this. Word has reached Dugout Philippines that it's now possible that the Elite will flip on Parks and pick someone else due to the ABL commitment. If that's the case, then Abu Tratter should be a great fit as I think they need a big man more than anything else. Another thing to consider: this pick is a subject of trade rumors surrounding TNT's Terrence Romeo. So let's just wait and see.

3. NorthPort: Robert Bolick
Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
While it's not really a lock, all roads are leading to NorthPort taking Bolick at number three. Bolick is groomed to become Stanley Pringle's new backcourt partner. Why not? Bolick, like Pringle, just dropped a 50 in a recent basketball game.

Sleeper: If Blackwater indeed snubs on Parks, NorthPort can take his services. In fact, the team is willing to wait for the ABL to end as per a person privy of the situation. If the Elite stick to Parks and the Batang Pier think they need someone other than Bolick, then the latter can either opt for a winger (for me, their wing rotation needs some tweaking) like Javee Mocon or pull off the shocker and select Trevis Jackson to partner with Pringle.

4. NLEX: Abu Tratter
Denver Lachica (file photo)
Originally, this pick belongs to Phoenix, but after a trade, NLEX now owns this one. Still, it will not stop Abu Tratter from being Pick no. 4 for me. The Road Warriors, like the Fuel Masters, need some stability down low, and Tratter fits the bill. Coach Yeng Guiao will also like Tratter's skill set as he can stretch the floor with his mid-range and occasional three-point game.

Sleeper: NLEX is another team that needs some wing makeover, so if Mocon remains available at this point, the club can go for him.

5. Meralco: Javee Mocon
Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
Looking into Meralco's roster right now, it seems like it is a complete squad. You have spitfire guards in Baser Amer, Chris Newsome, and Anjo Caram. You have solid wingmen like Cliff Hodge, Jared Dillinger, and KG Canaleta. You have Jason Ballesteros and Bryan Faundo manning the paint. So the club may opt for the best player available here. Javee Mocon could be a good fit here especially that injury woes at the wing spots have been hampering the squad recently.

Sleeper: Well, a Ballesteros-Faundo center rotation is not that really solid, but with the draft class this year not that big man-loaded, it is what it is. However, if Tratter is surprisingly available at number five, then the Bolts can take him in. Otherwise, they can go for Matt Salem or Mike Calisaan. PS: It will be a cute scenario if the Bolts select Jeepy Faundo in a later round, considering his ties with Bryan.

6. Rain Or Shine: Bong Quinto
MPBL (file photo)
Rain Or Shine coach Caloy Garcia is keen on adding a Letran alumnus to his squad like what he did last year, when he chose Rey Nambatac seventh overall. If he's sticking to his plan, then Bong Quinto could be the number six pick. While he may not be as quick as Nambatac (in fact, Quinto's more of an undersized wing than a combo guard), Quinto has upsides that can make a good replacement for Chris Tiu assuming he will retire soon. Quinto can pass and score, and he is also willing to bang bodies. But a plus for Quinto is his rebounding skills.

Sleeper: The Elasto Painters will lose their primary point guard should Tiu retire soon. Nambatac and Maverick Ahanmisi are more of a combo guard than a legit point. Trevis Jackson can be another option for them. A potential second rounder for them is another Letran standout in current Marikina Shoemaster JP Calvo, the Most Valuable Player of the PBA Draft Combine.

7. NLEX: Trevis Jackson
PBA Media Group (file photo)
I have been mentioning Trevis Jackson a number of times in this mock draft. A mystery man in this year's draft class, Jackson showed what he can do during his stint in the D-League and also in the combine. Assuming he remains available at this point, he is the best player remaining, so Guiao can go for him.

Sleeper: Guiao is known to turn virtual nobodies into instant stars. As mentioned above, the Road Warriors have to focus in hashing their wing positions, so I won't be surprised if Jorey Napoles, who has become a surprise projected first rounder in other mock drafts, can be selected here. Another out-of-nowhere pick to look at are Salem and Calisaan.

8. Rain Or Shine: Paul Desiderio
Dennis Acosta (file photo)
Like NLEX, ROS also has two first rounders as it owns the supposed TNT first rounder (the sixth pick). In the E-Painters' default first rounder, they can go for Paul Desiderio here. After all, they need a closer especially that James Yap is not anymore that "Big Game". Desiderio also blossomed from being an explosive scorer during his high school and Batang Gilas days to a leader and facilitator in the University of the Philippines' "Atin 'to!" days, making him a good fit as Tiu's next in line.

Sleeper: It's still possible Jackson can be available at this point, so just refer to the sleeper part of my sixth pick.

9. Alaska: Mike Calisaan
Nikki Collantes (file photo)
Basically, Alaska needs a big man considering that the team has been playing small ball in the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup Finals against Magnolia. But because this year's class is not that "big", the Aces can go for someone who can be a good inside threat. While Mike Calisaan is considered a wing due to his height, he is more efficient inside than outside and is a hardworking player, and Coach Alex Compton can pull the trigger and take him at number nine.

Sleeper: Like Calisaan, Napoles is a hard worker-type of a forward, so picking the Bulacan Kuya ninth overall is another option.

10. Magnolia: Jorey Napoles
MPBL (file photo)
Magnolia may go for the best player available in this pick, although shoring up its frontline could be a priority. Also, Coach Chito Victolero has a knack for hardworking people like Rome Dela Rosa and Robbie Herndon, who have instantly gained their spots in the team's rotation. Napoles showed that even if he never played in either of the so-called "Big 3" (UAAP, NCAA, and CESAFI), he deserves a spot in the PBA. Victolero can go for Napoles at number 10.

Sleeper: Defense has been in Victolero's pedigree when he took over for the Purefoods franchise, so adding another perimeter stopper is not a bad idea. Ron Dennison can be a sleeper at 10th overall.

11. Columbian: Matt Salem
Denver Lachica (file photo)
Recall: Columbian got this pick in last year's controversial Chris Standhardinger trade with San Miguel. However, the Dyip can correct their wrong by using this pick for a solid contributor. Matt Salem could make a good addition here since they need additional wing depth.

Sleeper: Now this is an interesting sleeper. After Tratter, the next available "legit" bigs are GBoy Babilonia and Jeepy Faundo. Since Columbian need a legit threat inside, picking either of the two second-generation players at 11th can be possible despite them being projected as non-first rounders.

12. Phoenix: Jeepy Faundo
Denver Lachica (file photo)
Although Phoenix lost its default first round pick to NLEX, the former will still get a first rounder as it owns the Ginebra pick thanks to a 2015 trade that saw Jervy Cruz going to Ginebra. Coach Louie Alas said that he already got what he wanted in the draft in Alex Mallari and Dave Marcelo, the active players the Road Warriors gave up just to get the number four pick. Still, the Fuel Masters still have some big men and combo guards to choose from in the draft class. For now, I think the frontline should be given a focus. Yes, Jeepy Faundo is a raw prospect and is not even expected to be a first round pick, but he has the length that Alas can make good use at. Not to mention he has a decent stint with Bataan in the MPBL.

Sleeper: I considered Babilonia here, although Phoenix already has a bruiser in Doug Kramer.

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

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno