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Blackwater intended to make draft surprise says Nash Racela

Josh Torralba was among Coach Nash Racela's top draft priorities. Pen Lazarte (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Blackwater coach Nash Racela admitted on Monday that he really meant to shock everyone in the PBA Draft the night before.

This, despite having no first round picks in the regular draft.

"One of the objectives really was to surprise people," Racela told Sports On Air in an upcoming podcast.

While some mock drafts have either Reymark Acuno or Josh Torralba in them, no one really thought that the newly rechristened Bossing would take them both that early in the draft itself.

But Racela believes that both players were the best talents available based on their draft priorities.

"We were almost 100 percent doon sa aming sariling mock draft, kaya it wasn't a surprise that we picked Rey Mark Acuno and Joshua Torralba. It was really according to plan," he further said.

This can be especially said of Acuno, who despite his six-foot-seven frame is a man of mystery with questions on whether he can deliver in the biggest stage despite playing for MPBL title contenders Manila Stars.

"Sabi namin, 'Kailangan nating kumuha ng big man kasi pag hindi natin siya kinuha and we wait for number 27 sa third round, most likely wala na tayong big man na makukuha.' So really took a gamble on him," Racela further said. "He's not the type who dominates the game, but he is a serviceable big man."

What made him easier to take Acuno was the fact that they saw his potentials when he was invited to their pre-draft workouts.

However, Racela also said that he was hoping for a major shocker in the first round that could relegate a projected first rounder down to the second.

The surprise began with the sixth pick when Alaska went for Ben Adamos, bringing Larry Muyang to Phoenix's seventh pick.

Terrafirma's eighth pick was used for James Laput, while Alvin Pasaol, a projected mid-first rounder, was selected ninth by Meralco.

Magnolia pulled the switch in the 10th pick by going for Jerrick Ahanmisi, while NorthPort took Troy Rike at number 11.

The round's biggest shocker was when Ginebra coach Tim Cone announced Kem Holmqvist as the 12th pick.

Despite the mock draft busters late in the first round, all the big men projected for the said round were drafted, something that Racela already anticipated.

"Medyo suntok sa buwan na aabot sila doon sa 14th pick, but we were ready to pick them just in case bumagsak sila," he further said.

The main plan, according to Racela, is to take two big men, but upon seeing how the first round went, he turned to Plan B, which is to take someone who is proficient from outside at number 15.

And for him, Torralba was the best guy available for that spot at that point.

"With regards to Joshua, he was really high on our list also when you talk about perimeter players.... Joshua was the guy for us," Racela further quipped.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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