Big Greg Gin Kings’ top draftee
Surprise choices complete annual PBA rookie ritualBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The first three picks in the Annual PBA Rookie Draft went according to expectations, then surprise selections dominated the rest of the proceedings before a mammoth crowd at Robinsons Place in Manila.
Greg Slaughter, measured at 6 feet 11 5/8 inches, went to Barangay Ginebra as the No. 1 overall pick before San Mig Coffee made former NCAA MVP Ian Sangalang (6-5 5/8) as the second choice and Rain or Shine tabbed Letran ace Raymond Almazan (6-7 3/4) as the third selection.
“It’s still surreal, I still can’t believe I am with Ginebra,” said Slaughter after stepping off the stage to chants of ‘Ginebra! Ginebra!’ from the crowd. “My focus right now is to help the team win a championship.”
While the teams that owned the first three picks beefed up and got younger, the veterans-laden Barako Bull traded the next three selections and got older and weaker—providing the first unexpected twist in the ceremonies.
The Energy have been giving up draft rights and potential superstars ever since rumors of their disbandment circulated a few years back. Yesterday, Barako Bull again passed up the chance to infuse young blood into its aging nucleus.
James Forrester became the fourth choice by the Gin Kings, who gave up former Rookie of the Year Rico Maierhofer and Willie Wilson to the Energy.
Barako Bull then yielded the No. 5 pick to Petron Blaze, which dealt it away to Globalport, which in turn selected Terrence Romeo, the reigning UAAP MVP with Far Eastern University, in exchange for Yousef Taha.
Globalport also snagged the sixth overall pick by giving Denok Miranda to the Energy, with the Batang Pier tapping Ryan Roose Garcia, another former Tamaraw and ex-UAAP MVP.
With the natural seventh selection, the Batang Pier then added ceiling by choosing 6-foot-9 Filipino-American Isaac Holstein.
“Did we score a coup?” Globalport Mikee Romero, whose squad picked up seven rookies, asked the Inquirer in jest. “I do hope that we were able to strengthen our roster.”
Alaska, picking eighth, also took a gamble on former Ateneo gunner Ryan Buenafe before the Elasto Painters selected Alex Nuyles, the athletic ex-Adamson gunslinger who was out of action in the recent UAAP season because of a shoulder injury.
Justin Chua, one of six former Blue Eagles in the pool, rounded out the first-round proceedings after being selected 10th overall by the Mixers, the newly crowned Governors’ Cup champions.
Surprisingly going in the second round were five-time UAAP champion Nico Salva of Ateneo, snagged 11th overall by Globalport, and Jeric Teng, the former Santo Tomas ace, who was selected next by the Painters.
Original Gilas Pilipinas member JR Cawaling went 30th overall to San Mig Coffee, which seemed bent on adding ceiling and beef to its frontline.
Teams have five days starting today to give their selectees pay offers before the rookies become free agents. The maximum offer that a rookie can get is P150,000 a month.
Hostilities went well into the seventh round with a total of 44 out of the 79 aspirants picked. Those who weren’t fortunate enough to land a spot yesterday can still try out for other teams.