Looking to snag best available talent, PBA coaches size up aspirants at Draft Combine
MANILA, Philippines—The top three picks in the upcoming 2018 PBA Draft are practically secured for CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, and Bobby Ray Parks. Jr. but it doesn’t mean the remaining aspirants are going to be pushovers.
Coaches in attendance during the PBA Draft Combine Thursday at Gatorade Hoops Center had their scouting goggles on to look at potential rookies that could make an impact for their respective teams.
Although some tried to hide their tricks up their sleeves, six-time champion Leo Austria named who can be viable options who can even be drafted in the third round.
“There are still a lot of players that can be picked up in the third round the only problem is they lack the exposure,” said Austria in Filipino. “But I can see some who have the potential.”
Austria, whose team won’t get a single pick in the first two rounds, singled out wingmen Kyles Lao and Clark Derige and guard Dan Alberto among those who can break into his San Miguel roster, with the problem that these new players will be dead last in the Beermen’s pecking order.
“The only problem is by the time you get to the third round your team is almost complete and for example, in my team, if you’re a point guard you’ll have to wait behind Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross,” added Austria.
Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia, whose team owns the sixth and eighth picks, looked at guards JP Calvo and CJ Isit and forward Matt Salem as quality rookies who can beef up any team.
“Almost everyone’s been showing great promise and this will be a hard decision and we really have to study for this,” said Garcia in Filipino. “I think it will just depend on who’s still available when it’s your turn to pick.”
Of the coaches present in the Combine, probably the one with the most pressure is Meralco head coach Norman Black.
Meralco owns the no.5 pick in the Draft and Black said he’s looking at those players who didn’t receive that much fanfare as compared to the potential top three picks.
“We have guys in mind but a lot of that will depend on who is the no.4 pick,” said Black. “You normally see guys whom you haven’t probably seen before and you have a chance to see guys who are mostly under the radar. It just gave me a second and third chance to reinforce what I saw in practice.”
For NLEX assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, picking a player doesn’t just rely on what place a team is on the board but it also depends on the needs of a given roster.
The Road Warriors own the seventh overall pick in the Draft and they’re looking to get someone who’ll mesh well with the current roster that they have.
“We’re really thinking hard for this one because it’s not just the position of the player that we’re looking for,” said Arespacochaga. “We’re also looking at the talent who can help us and fit in our team.”
Another coach who has a conundrum in this year’s Combine is TNT’s Bong Ravena whose team’s pick will be dealt to Rain or Shine after the KaTropa traded for Jericho Cruz in February of 2018.
Ravena said they’re in a position where they don’t have many players to choose from and that they’re left to select the best quality player that best fits the roster.
“The first priority is to look for bigs because we have a guard heavy lineup,” said Ravena in Filipino. “We can also look for a potential backup for Jayson [Castro] and probably a wingman. So far I like Kent Lao who’s 6-foot-4. I hope we can get him.”
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