Melecio, Oftana enter PBA Draft; Baltazar stays with La Salle
MANILA, Philippines — A pair of La Salle standouts made contrasting decisions just before Wednesday’s deadline for the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft application.
Guard Aljun Melecio has decided to forego his final UAAP year with the Green Archers and enter the rookie draft set for March 14.
In an emotional post on social media, Melecio bid farewell to La Salle, which he helped win the UAAP title in Season 79.
There are just some things in life that we can’t control, and this was one of them. This was not the ending I expected…
“There are just some things in life that we can’t control, and this was one of them. This was not the ending I expected for my time playing for the green and white,” he wrote. “Being the team captain in my last playing year, I almost did not let go, but there are just some hard, but important decisions we must make.”
After cutting Season 82 short, the UAAP was then forced to cancel its 83rd Season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From watching the Green Archers on TV when I was a kid in Valencia City Bukidnon to eventually representing La Salle, holding the banner high and bright was a dream come true for me. I am beyond grateful to the Lasallian Community for giving me a chance to showcase my talents and enhance my skills,” Melecio, the former UAAP Rookie of the Year, said.
“This is a painful announcement, but it is one I have to make: I am entering the 2021 PBA Draft.”
But while Melecio opted to test his mettle in the pros, his college teammate Justine Baltazar did the opposite.
Baltazar, widely-regarded as one of the best big men in college today, has reportedly chosen to skip this year’s PBA Draft and remain with La Salle.
The 6-foot-7 Baltazar, who was a member of the UAAP Season 82 Mythical Five after averaging 15.1 points and 11.8 rebounds, will also focus on his duties as part of the Gilas Pilipinas program.
Meanwhile, reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana has also applied for the draft.
Oftana helped Gilas Pilipinas sweep Thailand in the second window of the Fiba Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers last November.
The San Beda stalwart joined fellow Gilas pool members Jaydee Tungcab and Will Navarro in the talent-laden draft, which currently has a record number of applicants at 94.