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Grading the 2015 PBA Draft Week



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Thanks to incoming Commissioner Chito Narvasa’s “no trades on the floor” ruling for draft day, last Sunday’s events were largely uneventful. There were hardly any surprises, save for the Ahanmisi pick, which threw everyone’s mock drafts into the trash bin.

Despite the Rain or Shine “shocker”, I’m happy to say that I somehow was able to correctly predict all the first round picks. Honestly, I was surprised, especially since I made the list prior to the no trades ruling.

Now that it’s done and some trades have finally pushed through, it’s time to grade each team’s draft haul and trade transactions. I’ll only be including the main draft picks (First and second rounders, with the occasional latter round picks) as part of my analysis, as most players picked after the first two rounds are just courtesy picks or to fill up training camp slots.

First let’s start with the double-champions the San Miguel Beermen:

San Miguel Beermen2015-Governors-Cup-Champions

Draft Haul: No 1st and 2nd rounders

The Beermen didn’t have any picks in this year’s draft, nor did they look into acquiring one. After winning two championships and their window still very much open, they just don’t have any space or minutes to integrate a first round pick. Just ask last year’s number 3 pick, Ronald Pascual.

‘Why change something that is already working’ must be the San Miguel Beermen staff’s motto right now.

Grade: Incomplete

NEXT: Teams that dropped the ball >>

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Mahindra Enforcers

Added: Rob Reyes, KG Canaleta, Aldrech Ramos

I’d give the team an F if I could, but like the Blackwater deal, I’m basing it on the outcome of the draft. That said, they still did a terrible job of getting even decent value for their pick.

Not only did they NOT get the best player in the deal (by far Rosario), they also didn’t get the second best player, Kevin Alas, who eventually went to NLEX. Furthermore, initial rumors were that they were supposed to grab the 10th pick (who belonged to NLEX), which actually turned out to Glenn Khobuntin, but they didn’t get him either. Not that getting Ramos and Khobuntin would have been equal to adding Rosario, but at least they’d get a younger player, whom they would have had to pay less and play defense, as opposed to KG Canaleta who’s entering the backside of his career.

Guinto in the 2nd round is a solid pick, as he was projected to go as high as 8 depending on how the draft panned out.

Still, that doesn’t make up for the fact that we’ve got some downright stupid stuff happening in the PBA right now.

Grade: D

Blackwater Elite

Multi-titled collegiate star Art dela Cruz goes to Blackwater

Multi-titled collegiate star Art dela Cruz goes to Blackwater

Draft Haul: Art Dela Cruz, Almond Vosotros

First of all, this should automatically be an F considering they just sold their pick to Talk N’ Text before last season started. But since we’re grading them on the basis of who they got given their picks, they actually did a good job.

Keep in mind that Blackwater really wanted Ahanmisi with the 9th pick, but thanks to Ahanmisi getting picked at 3, that meant they had to get someone else. Luckily for them, Art Dela Cruz dropped onto their laps. Dela Cruz has a good chance of winning this year’s MVP award in the NCAA, and some mock drafts had him as high as number 3. The big question, though, is whether they’ll keep him, or will he be eventually moved to the MVP group for another pupu platter?

Taking Vosotros at the top of the 2nd round was highly questionable. Vosotros’ has limited upside, as he’s a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. He tried masquerading around as a point guard in last year’s UAAP, but as I’ve pointed out in the past, that didn’t go so well. What Almond has going for him is that he played well for Sinag, as he saved the team with his outside shooting.

Still, I can’t help but feel they could have gotten a better talent at that spot. Enciso was still on board, as well as Wetherell and Sumang. All those guys may not be better than Vosotros, but they do have higher upside at the pro level.

Grade: C

Barako Bull Energy ColaMonfort

Draft Haul: Kris Rosales
Lost: Nico Salva
Added: Emman Monfort, Jens Knuttel, Josh Urbiztondo

Hard to be tough on these guys since the team is basically just a conduit for SMC’s trades. They lost their first round pick due to a prior deal, which eventually went to NLEX (from Ginebra). In addition, with Ginebra’s “need” to unload on their floor generals, they traded Nico Salva, a guy Coach Tim Cone sees potential in, for Monfort, “The Fireball”, and Jens Knuttel.

During the draft, The Energy Cola selected Kris Rosales in the 2nd round and while he’s made a name for himself by landing workouts with NBA teams, he simply hasn’t given Barako fans enough reason to shout “steal of the draft”.

The bigger problem for Barako Bull though is how they can balance the playing time at the point between RR Garcia and the three musketeers?

Grade: C

NEXT: Teams that played if safe >>

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Rain or Shine Elasto Painters

Rain or Shine made a surprise in selecting Maverick Ahanmisi

Rain or Shine made a surprise in selecting Maverick Ahanmisi

Draft Haul: Maverick Ahanmisi, Josan Nimes, Don Trollano, Simon Enciso (eventually traded to NLEX)
Lost: Jervy Cruz
Added: Jewel Ponferrada

As mentioned above, the draft took its first major turn when Rain or Shine shocked everyone by getting Ahanmisi at number 3. Reports show that Guiao gave in to the suggestions of his trusted staff instead of drafting guys like Newsome or Torres.

Ahanmisi is still an enigma to fans, as he’s only been playing here for a year. It’s curious though how he’ll fit into Rain or Shine’s crowded backcourt and wing rotation, which already includes Lee, Chan, Norwood, Ibanes, Arana, Uyloan, Tiu and Teng (although he may be traded soon).

Nothing against Ahanmisi, but with a guy like Thompson or Lanete still on board, it seems that those two have higher upside at the moment.

The Elasto Painters weren’t done there though. Instead of shoring up their front line, they got the talented but oft-injured Josan Nimes at 12. Nimes is a great scorer who should thrive in Guiao’s open floor, ball screen heavy offense. However, scoring will never be a problem when you have as deep a lineup as Rain or Shine’s. They still need to find a way to matchup in the interior against the likes of Fajardo, Thoss, and Slaughter. Keep in mind that Bradwyn Guinto was still on board at that point.

Grade: C+

Alaska Aces

Versatile forward Kevin Racal goes to the Alaska Aces

Versatile forward Kevin Racal goes to the Alaska Aces

Draft Haul: Kevin Racal, Marion Magat, Jaypee Mendoza, Abel Galligez

Considering that they didn’t have a high draft pick and their “first round pick” was essentially a 2nd rounder, getting Kevin Racal at that spot was a good deal for them. He fits their system to a tee, as he’s a defensive minded player who can give them depth at the wing spots.

What must have hurt was seeing Glenn Khobuntin getting drafted just one slot ahead (more on that later on).

Their 2nd round picks were a little curious, but understandable given their roster situation. Magat could be there to replace Eric Menk, who may or may not play till he’s 50. Mendoza might be a little redundant given they have a guy like Rome Dela Rosa on board, but as I’ve said before, it ain’t bad having too much of a good thing.

Given the parameters that Alaska has – following the salary cap, not having sister teams to help facilitate trades – the draft haul was decent.

Grade: B-

NEXT: Teams that have drafted well for the future >>

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Barangay Ginebra Kings

NCAA Season 90 MVP Scottie Thompson goes to the Ginebra Kings

NCAA Season 90 MVP Scottie Thompson goes to the Ginebra Kings

Draft Haul: Scottie Thompson, Aljon Mariano
Added: Nico Salva
Lost: Josh Urbiztondo, Emman Monfort, Jens Knuttel

Hard to miss on this pick, as they were going to high-ceiling player regardless of who they picked at 5. Thompson fills a future need, especially with the Fast and Furious combo of Mark Caguiao and Jay Helterbrand nearing the tail-end of their careers. He also has a very high basketball IQ, which will definitely help as he learns the intricacies of the read-based triangle system.

Scoring Aljon Mariano in the 2nd round is great value for the team. Yes, his downside is that he’s sort of a tweener, but he’s got a great scoring touch, and as shown in the PBA Combine, the speed to convert to the small forward position full time. Word on the street though is that he may eventually be shipped to Global Port for the recently acquired Jervy Cruz.

If that pushes through they basically grabbed a solid veteran that fills an immediate need (back up big) with a second round pick. Good job Earl Timothy Cone!

Grade: B+

NLEX Road Warriors

Garvo Lanete gets his wish to play for Boyet Fernandez and NLEX

Garvo Lanete gets his wish to play for Boyet Fernandez and NLEX

Draft Haul: Garvo Lanete, Glenn Khobuntin, Simon Enciso (via trade)
Lost: Aldrech Ramos, KG Canaleta
Added: Kevin Alas

Like Ginebra and Meralco, it’s difficult to mess up this draft when you’ve got some sure fire talent falling into your lap.

With their first pick, they got Garvo Lanete, who’s been held out of joining the PBA for quite some time. It must be fate that he ended up with the team and management group that’s been a part of for the past billion years.

But the real steal they got was Glenn Khobuntin at 10. Both the Aces and the Elasto Painters were secretly praying that NLEX would select someone else and he’d drop. After turning his life around during his years at National U (and winning a championship to boot), Khobuntin also impressed coaches during his stint with the Sinag team that took home the gold in Singapore.

Add these picks to the move where they essentially turned Canaleta and Ramos into Kevin Alas without giving up the 10th pick, it’s been a great week for the Road Warriors.

Grade: B+

Star Hotshots

Stretch forward and former UAAP champion Norbert Torres goes to Star

Stretch forward and former UAAP champion Norbert Torres goes to Star

Draft Haul: Norbert Torres

Talk about luck. With Ahanmisi being selected at 3, that meant someone out of Torres, Lanete, Amer, Thompson, and Newsome would fall to 8. Some even had Khobuntin or Dela Cruz going to Star at that spot. However, grabbing Torres at 8 was simply too good to pass up on. He was by far the best big in the draft outside of Tautuaa and Rosario and to get him at 8 is great value.

Grade: B+


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Globalport Batang Pier

Draft Haul: No 1st & 2nd round picks, Roi Sumang
Added: Jervy Cruz
Lost: Jewel Ponferrada

Slowly but surely, Global Port has become a contender in the PBA, partly because they gave up future picks to help bolster their roster prior to last season. That left them without a first round pick in this draft.

That didn’t stop the Mikee Romero owned group from nabbing first round talent. By now, everyone’s read up on the draft day slide of the talented but mercurial Roi Sumang. Rumors of bad attitude and his representation (Lawrence Chongson is his manager) caused him to drop all the way down to the 3rd round.

Nabbing a talent at that spot is an excellent gamble for the Batang Pier. Yes, they have an overloaded backcourt with Pringle, Romeo, Yeo, and now Sumang, but having more talent is always a good thing. They certainly didn’t have any problems integrating Stanley, Terrence, Omar, and Ronjay Buenafe last conference, and they finished 4th after the elimination round.

And how could we miss the reunion between Jervy Cruz and Pido Jarencio? This is going to be good!

Grade: A

Meralco BoltsMeralco-Newsome-Amer

Draft Haul: Chris Newsome, Baser Amer

Talk about playing your cards right. Everyone thought that the Bolts would be going for a big and would select Torres with one of their first round picks. However, with Rabeh Al-Hussaini back from his stint in Kuwait and the sneaky signing of Justin Chua, the Bolts had enough size to go after the best available talents in the draft.

Enter Chris Newsome and Baser Amer.

Newsome will now finally get to play with the coach who recruited him to go to the Philippines in the first place, while Amer represents their future at the point guard position.

The Bolts now have a guard rotation of Alapag, David, Newsome and Amer. Add in hard-working forwards Cliff Hodge, Sean Anthony, and Jared Dillinger, with Rabeh and Kelly Nabong manning the middle and Norman Black teaching them the finer things in basketball? Things are looking electric for Meralco this coming season.

Grade: A

Talk ‘N Text Tropang TextersPBA-Slam-Draft-suite-cover

Draft Haul: Mo Tautuaa
Lost: Kevin Alas, Rob Reyes

Cmon guys, is there really any other grade to give them? They locked up the top two picks in the draft AFTER winning a championship during the Commissioner’s Cup.

Thanks to a series of trades with the two expansion teams, the Tropang Texters now have their front-court of the future, one that should compete for championships every single conference for the next 8 years.

Is this unfair? You be the judge.

Grade: A+




Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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