A top-three pick.
That is how Jamie Malonzo sees himself in the virtual 2021 PBA Rookie Draft on March 14 that drew a record 97 applicants, making it easily the deepest and the most talent-laden draft in years.
“For the draft, I see myself going one, two. Maybe three,” the Filipino-American forward confidently told The Chasedown, Saturday.
“But definitely, for sure, one of the top picks.”
Some believe that Malonzo could be the top pick by Terrafirma, who has been selecting first in the annual draft proceedings since 2018.
The high-flying 24-year-old has been putting in solid outings since arriving on local shores back in 2019 to play for De La Salle University in UAAP Season 82.
In his lone year with the Green Archers, the transferee from Portland State normed 15.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.1 steals in 18 games. He also earned a spot in the Mythical Five.
Malonzo then brought his talents to the PBA D-League as the 2nd overall pick of Marinerong Pilipino. He had 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and a block in his Skippers debut.
Malonzo is all geared up for his jump to the pros, saying that he’s been studying some of the best in the PBA. That includes Gabe Norwood and Matthew Wright, whom he said he tries to model his game after.
But he prides himself as more of a defender.
“I consider myself a defender at the end of the day. I try my hardest on both ends of the court, especially the defensive side – I like playing it. I’mma play it hard,” Malonzo expressed.
“Whether we’re down 20 or up 20, I’mma keep playing defense.”
Malonzo, though, isn’t the only one whom pundits see as the potential first overall selection of his class. There’s also Joshua Munzon, who has proven himself as one of the best young players today.
After serving as a Heritage Import for Saigon Heat and Westports Malaysia Dragons in the ABL, the 6-foot-4 gunslinger took his talents to the Philippines. Here, he is one of the pioneers of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3.
Munzon then emerged as the top Filipino 3×3 player, and was among the faces of the halfcourt game’s renaissance in the country. But he remained active in the 5-on-5 circuit through the D-League as AMA’s top pick in 2018.
And he did not waste time showing what he can do. He became the Titans’ best player, as evidenced by his 46-point outing versus UST that was then the second-most points scored in a game in league history.
Munzon definitely has the experience to become the no. 1 pick in the draft, taking place virtually this year. However, that doesn’t matter that much to him as long as he gets to play in Asia’s first pro league.
“For me, it’s really out of my hands,” he said in the same online program. “It’s up to the teams. Whoever has that pick, whatever they wanna do with it… You know personally, I just want to come in and do my job.
”You know, give everything I have to whoever team chooses me and commit to winning ball games. I wanna come in and play my role and contribute and make my mark in the league.”