Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone had the dilemma of who to select as fifth overall in the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft.
With a lot of talents still available, Cone said prior to the draft they were looking at some defenders or wing guys, but in the end, he chose Scottie Thompson of Perpetual Help.
Cone shared that it boiled down to between him and La Salle big Norbert Torres, as the mentor is fond of going big like what he used to do with the Star Hotshots franchise.
However, Cone sensed that Thompson could develop into something unique.
“We were debating between him and Norbert Torres. I am a big men guy so I really wanted to get Torres but I just felt Scottie has a chance to be special,” Cone said.
Thompson’s addition gives Ginebra an assurance in the future. Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand will not be in the league for so long, and Thompson is fit to replace them in the backcourt rotation in the near future.
A believer in continuity, Cone made the right choice, and spoke highly of the Altas guard.
“He has some uncommon skills, he is patient, he reads the court really well, he moves well with the ball and without the ball, he has a nose for the rebounds and feeds the post very well so these are uncommon things that make him a special player,” Cone said, adding Thompson is a player “just too good to pass up” even with Ginebra already having a stacked backcourt.
“I would have preferred to pick other players to fill out other positions because we are guard heavy, but it was just like taking Johnny Abarrientos, he is just too good to pass up. We are really fortunate we got him.”
Right now, Cone is giving Thompson enough leeway, understanding that the Gilas cadet still has a mission to fulfill in the NCAA.
“We hope 3 to 4 years down the road he can contribute. Right now he does not have to contribute immediately because he is still in the NCAA and it is fine. His focus has to be winning a championship,” Cone added.
With Ginebra, Thompson will also enjoy learning from the veteran guards in the lineup, similar to how Mark Barroca, once a third-string point guard in a loaded B-Meg Llamados backcourt, worked his way to becoming an all-star.
“At some point he will get to us and he will have a chance to learn from a Jayjay Helterbrand and a Mark Caguioa, see what they do just to grow. We have an LA Tenorio there and Sol Mercado and Olsen Racela on our staff so we have some great mentors.”
Cone’s other picks include Aljon Mariano and Dennice Villamor, both forwards with range which is again vital in the system Cone is known for.
“We did not expect to get Aljon. We thought he would be in the end of the first round. So when he was still out it was a no-brainer for us. He is a very versatile player who could fill out the wing for us,” Cone shared.
“Dennice is the guy we want in the second round. But with Aljon we went with Aljon and were just lucky Dennice was still free in the third round. He is a stretch 4 who shoots really well and in today’s game, you need guys who can stretch the floor.”
With such additions, Ginebra is off to a promising start in its “Cone era”, and has the makings of a powerhouse team in the seasons to come.