PBA dreams fulfilled for Slaughter, Sangalang and AlmazanBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines—There was little anxiety to say the least and just merely for the sake of formality as PBA commissioner Chito Salud one by one called out the names of the first three picks in the 2013 PBA Draft Sunday.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel made it official as it tabbed seven-foot Greg Slaughter as the first overall pick while San Mig Coffee chose former NCAA MVP Ian Sangalang as the second pick and Rain or Shine used the third pick on Letran’s defensive anchor Raymond Almazan.
Slaughter, the former National team mainstay, was immediately greeted by that familiar “Gi-ne-bra” chants by onlookers inside the Robinsons Place Manila in Ermita as if the imposing center was already playing his first game with the crowd-favorite Kings.
“Still surreal right now,” the former Ateneo center Slaughter, who donned a red Ginebra jacket with matching cap, told reporters just moments after being selected No.1.
“This is a dream come true. Ginebra has the best fan support,” he added. “I don’t want to let them down so I’m going to give my best every time.”
Slaughter succeeded Petron Blaze’s big man Junemar Fajardo as the top overall pick and immediately—even before Slaughter has managed to log a second in his professional career—he was put in the same sentence with the six-foot-10 Fajardo.
“I’m not really concentrating so much on my matchup with Junemar (Fajardo),” Slaughter dismissed. “I’m concentrating more on how to help my team to win a championship.”
But while most didn’t feel any tension, it was actually Sangalang himself who ironically felt nervous while waiting for his name to be called.
“I didn’t expect to go number two,” said the former San Sebastian star Sangalang in Filipino. “I knew I was going to get picked but that’s what’s making me nervous because you can’t really be sure until your name gets called.”
The lanky Almazan, who is set to be named MVP of the still ongoing 89th NCAA Season, also felt like he was sitting on pins and needles as he waited for his turn.
“I felt really nervous and excited at the same time,” the six-foot-seven Almazan said in Filipino. “It was overwhelming the moment I heard my name. All my hard work paid off.”
Almazan let out a deep breath, a sort of sigh of relief, after the short interview while Slaughter and Sangalang just couldn’t wipe the smile off their faces as if the three big men weren’t expecting to get drafted and they went on to be the first three picks.
“I can’t believe I’m in the PBA now,” said Sangalang.