Balti Baltazar, Sedrick Barefield banner 70-strong PBA Draft class

Balti Baltazar is expected to be selected first in this year's PBA Draft. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Seventy players will try their luck to make it to the Philippines' top-flight basketball league as they have formally declared for the PBA Draft.

As announced by the league on Friday, 70 applications were filed during the application period that concluded at the end of the working hours on Thursday.

Headlining the list are Pampanga Giant Lantern Balti Baltazar and former Bay Area Dragon Sedrick Barefield.

Both Baltazar and Barefield were projected 1-2 in last year's draft, but they opted to skip the previous edition.

With both of them finally taking the PBA route, they are once again expected to be the first two picks of the July 14 proceedings at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati.

Other notable names who declared for the draft are former Asian imports RJ Abarrientos and Dave Ildefonso, both currently with Strong Group Athletics for the Jones Cup, and Avan Nava.

MPBL standouts who could find their way to the PBA include Paul Garcia, CJ Cansino, CJ Catapusan, Mark Cruz, Ef Escandor, DJ Mitchell, Jielo Razon, and Mark Nonoy.

Former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 players Brandon Ramirez and CJ Payawal also declared for the PBA Draft even as they also spent some time in the MPBL to improve their game.

Evan Nelle, Jonnel Policarpio, and Ben Phillips, who were teammates with Escandor and Nonoy during La Salle's UAAP title run last year, both applied for the draft too.

Nelle is projected as the best point guard in this year's draft class, although Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Jerom Lastimosa could pose a challenge as he is expected to be in full health again after an ACL injury.

The draft applicants are expected to grace the PBA Draft Combine from July 10-11 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

The final list of eligible draft applicants will be released after the combine.

Converge holds the first pick of the PBA Draft, while Blackwater goes next at number two to be followed by Terrafirma's third overall pick.

Phoenix will pick fourth, while NorthPort has the fifth pick and NLEX begins its Jong Uichico era by drafting the sixth overall pick.

Rain Or Shine holds two first-round selections, their own pick, the eighth pick, and a pick they got from Blackwater but was originally owned by TNT, which is the seventh pick.

Magnolia holds the ninth pick, while Ginebra has the 10th pick, Meralco owns the 11th pick, and San Miguel caps the first round with the 12th pick.

The FiberXers and Elasto Painters both have a bunch of draft assets for retooling as they too have three second-round picks each.

The Gin Kings, on the other hand, have two second-round selections.

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