Road Warriors key pro prospectsBy Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE OTHER teams in the PBA Developmental League will be happy to know that practically the entire NLEX lineup has applied for the PBA draft scheduled next month.
The Road Warriors have dominated the D-League since its formation over two years ago, winning all three titles staked thus far.
I saw the names of the applicants for the August draft and about seven to eight of them had played for NLEX last season. If head coach Boyet Fernandez would lose seven or more of his players for the next D-League season, how does he intend to replace them? I had to call him for an immediate answer.
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“Yes Tita, I’m losing nine players to the draft as of today, July 17,” said coach Boyet yesterday.
The PBA aspirants are Filipino-Americans Cliff Hodge and Chris Ellis, Emman Monfort, Calvin Abueva, Dave Marcelo, Jaypee Belencion, Erik Suguitan, Woody Co and Karl Dehesa.
Boyet said he did not know if Garbo Lanete and Ronald Pascual will join the draft. But the players who won’t be picked will always have a place in the team, he added.
“We will have a slot for them. That’s how NLEX management takes care of its players,” Boyet said.
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If NLEX loses all 11 players to the draft—including Pascual and Lanete—how does Boyet intend to rise from the ashes since everyone knows he is a highly methodical and meticulous coach in preparing his team?
How does he intend to rebuild the team practically from scratch?
“We already signed up players who will stay with us for the upcoming season which starts this October,” said Boyet, who looks forward “to a very good third season.”
“They are Borgie Hermida, RR Garcia, Ian Sangalang, Jake Pascual and Kirk Long,” he added.
I asked him about the towering Greg Slaughter of Ateneo and Nico Salva. It is an open secret in the collegiate circles that the two are joining NLEX. Boyet said both have signed up but he won’t reveal the names of the other players who might complete the NLEX cast.
“I’ve given my recommendations to Boss (team manager) Ronald Dulatre, who does the negotiating for acquiring the players,” Boyet said.
Even with an incomplete lineup, I told Boyet he has the ammunition for a four-peat next season. Then I asked him if he thought one of his players would be the top pick of this year’s PBA draft.
“I believe any of my players can be a top pick,” he said. “It will all depend on the kind of player the drafting team needs. One thing I can assure the PBA teams, from the bottom of my heart, should they draft any of the NLEX players, they will never live to regret it.”
The annual PBA draft is set on August 19 at Robinson’s Midtown in Manila.
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The next edition of the D-League opens in October, almost simultaneous with the opening of the PBA’s 38th season.
“The PBA D-League has met our expectations in as far as developing players and even coaches for the PBA,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud, whose vision helped launch the amateur league early last year. “The upcoming PBA Draft should cement that further.”
Aside from the NLEX Road Warriors, the PBA expects the continued participation of other D-League teams like Cebuana Lhuillier, Big Chill, Blackwater Sports, Boracay Rum, Café France and the Cagayan Rising Suns.
“Our doors are open for new teams to participate—school teams, LGU-based teams and of course, companies who wish to invest in youth and sports development,” said Salud. “All they have to do is call or e-mail the PBA office and our staff would be happy to field inquiries.”
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