JV Casio, Paul Lee 1-2 in PBA Draft; All Smart Gilas players picked early
MANILA—As far as seven months back, JV Casio had a lock on the number one rookie pick.
So it came as no surprise when Casio, the dynamic point guard out of La Salle and a pillar of the Smart Gilas national team, became the first choice of Powerade in Sunday’s PBA Rookie Draft at Robinsons Place in Ermita, Manila.
“I really can’t believe I’m here—it was a lifelong dream,” said Casio, the smallest top pick at 5-foot-9 and only the fourth point guard in league history to make the elite class of rookies.
Powerade coach Bo Perasol had intimated his preference for Casio a month before the opening of the import-laden Commissioner’s Cup on February 18.
Rain or Shine picked the next best available talent from the 34-man pool—UE’s Paul Lee, whose aerial acrobatics and three-pointers have made the six-foot guard an attraction in the UAAP.
“I feel that I could easily adapt to the PBA style of play,” said the 6-1′ Lee, who is thrilled to have Yeng Guiao as his coach.
Smart Gilas ace Chris Lutz was selected by Petron Blaze at third overall after the Boosters worked out a deal with Barako Bull to go up in the lottery ladder.
Petron shipped power forward Mick Pennisi, shooter Sunday Salvacion, the eighth overall pick and a pair of future draft rights—a first-round selection in 2014 and a second-rounder on Petron’s call—in exchange for Dondon Hontiveros, Carlo Sharma and the No. 3 choice.
Marcio Lassiter, a Smart Gilas ace like Lutz, went to Powerade for the fourth selection while Shopinas, formerly Air21, acquired national team playmaker Mark Barroca at fifth.
“Getting Lassiter at No. 4 was a bonus for us,” said Perasol.
Two more Smart Gilas players were chosen—Marc Baracael (Alaska) and Jason Ballesteros (Meralco)—before Barako used the eighth overall pick on PBA D-League MVP Allein Maliksi.
Power forward Reil Cervantes of FEU (Barangay Ginebra) and Smart Gilas wingman Dylan Ababou of UST (Barako) were also picked in the first round.
The tallest rookie aspirant—the six-foot-seven Magi Sison of UP—went to the Shopinas Clickers at the start of the second round while Talk ‘N Text picked its only rookie in San Sebastian’s John Murphy Raymundo as 12th overall.
Alaska cornered the next three spots in the lottery—Ateneo’s Eric Salamat, guard Julius Pasculado and forward Ariel Mepana from Cebu. Observers present at the rookie camp held last week said the six-foot Pasculado could be the real steal of the Draft.
Completing the second round were Brian Ilad (B-Meg), Gilbert Bulawan (Meralco), James Martinez (Ginebra), Kenneth Acibar (Barako), Paul Sorongan (Barako), John Marc Agustin (Powerade).
Jose Rizal playmaker Marc Cagoco and foreign-bred guard Filemon Fernandez went to Shopinas and Petron, respectively, in the third round before the reigning Governors’ Cup champions closed out the freshman exercise presided over by PBA commissioner Chito Salud by selecting Jerald Lapus.
Only 24 out of 34 aspirants landed in a PBA team in the Draft with the lowest turnout in 12 years but one of the richest in terms of talent and potential.