Hopefuls and aspirants to enter the Philippine Basketball Association suffered a huge blow Friday after the league announced that the 2021 Draft Combine won’t take place.
For non-blue chip prospects, the Combine has been their key to introducing themselves to coaches and officials who have not heard of them.
But there are a fortunate few who will have a chance to still be able to showcase themselves before the March 14 festivities. And one of them is Basilan Steel’s Philip Manalang as his team will be playing in the MPBL’s Subic bubble starting March 5.
“Siyempre nalungkot kasi yun yung chance namin magpakita sa mga PBA teams kung gaano kami nag-improve ngayong pandemic. Simula last year, nagpapakondisyon pa rin kasi ako kahit nung pandemic para paghandaan tong Combine,” the 5-foot-10 guard said to Tiebreaker Times.
“Buti na lang makakalaro pa rin ako dun sa bubble nga namin sa MPBL.”
Basilan will be one of four teams that will close out the Chooks-to-Go Lakan Season. The others are San Juan, Makati, and Basilan foe Davao Occidental.
Other PBA Draft applicants that are entering the draft but will still play in the MPBL first are San Juan’s Andoy Estrella; Makati’s Joshua Torralba; and the Davao Occi duo of Kenneth Mocon and Richard Albo.
For Manalang, this will be the boost he needs to increase his stock. This as he only holds averages of 2.8 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 rebounds in 18 games played for Basilan last year.
“Laking bagay sa amin nun kasi may pagkakataon pa kami na pakita yung kakayanin namin. Yun na yung pinaka PBA Combine namin,” the 23-year-old said.
“Advantage yun sa amin.”
Currently, Manalang is in the best shape of his life. Though dropping almost five-kilograms since last playing for UE back in UAAP Season 82, he gained more muscle mass.
Being stronger physically is what the Steel need come the MPBL Playoffs as they won’t be having Allyn Bulanadi. In addition, if Basilan gets past the Tigers on the fifth, they will figure in the National Finals which will be played every other day.
“Confident naman kami kasi madami naman kaming kaposisyon si Allyn tapos sa team namin, kami lang ni Kuya Hesed [Gabo] ang kondisyon. I-enjoy lang namin itong Game Three at sana maka-Finals.”