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Vital pieces

Munzon, Malonzo go 1-2 in Draft as Terrafirma, NorthPort shore up rosters for coming PBA Season
/ 04:05 AM March 15, 2021

Johnedel Cardel wanted one kind of player going into the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Draft: One who can help rejuvenate his Terrafirma Dyip.

He may have gotten his wish on Sunday after taking athletic guard Joshua Munzon as the first overall pick in the annual proceedings, held virtually with the help of TV5’s studio.

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“I hope he enables us to compete again,” he told the Inquirer. “Come April 11, whether [the season will be played in a] bubble or not, I really hope he makes us ready.”

In drafting Munzon, Terrafirma gets a player who can crank up the Dyip’s offense as soon as it dips. The club also gets a cager who is likely to make himself comfortable to the league’s type of play quickly, owing to his international experience.

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One thing remains to be seen, though, and that is if Munzon can adequately fill the gaping hole left by the former Rookie of the Year who drove the Dyip around, CJ Perez, who was traded to San Miguel Beer just a few weeks back—a bold move management took because it knew Munzon will be there for the taking in the Draft.

If anything, he sounded up to the task.

“My journey led me up to this point. I’m super honored, super excited to be in this position and I’m ready to get to work. I just want to come in and contribute and be a good teammate and be somebody who works hard and be a good example on and off the court,” the California-born guard said shortly after he was drafted.

No early surprises

Like Terrafirma, NorthPort, NLEX and TNT all got their expected picks.

The Batang Pier snagged high-leaping Jamie Malonzo, while the Road Warriors tabbed versatile big man Calvin Oftana, and the Tropang Giga, who are looking for someone similar to on-leave star Ray Parks Jr., picked spitfire guard Mikey Williams.

Chot Reyes, TNT’s comebacking coach, has long expressed his interest in Williams, should Munzon and Malonzo get drafted ahead of Tropang Giga’s turn.

“If you look at Ray’s position, it’s actually [Munzon and Malonzo] who fit that bill,” he said in a previous interview.

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Such trend carried on for most teams in the latter half of the first round, with Rain or Shine, Alaska and Phoenix taking turns at the best available big men: Leondard Santillan, Ben Adamos and Larry Muyang—in that order.

Aside from Munzon, Terrafirma snagged the biggest prospect out of the bunch in 6-foot-10 James Laput at No. 8, virtually giving the Dyip the best of both worlds—speed and size—if it really does hope to be competitive again in next season.

Kings select unknowns

Magnolia was the first to shatter projections when it drafted guard Jerrick Ahanmisi at No. 10.

Barangay Ginebra, the reigning PH Cup champ which had the last pick of the first round, gambled on an unheralded player in Ken Holmqvist before doing the same in the first pick of the second round with Brian Enriquez.

Also picking twice in the opening round, NorthPort decided to go for a big man, selecting Troy Rike at No. 11.

Meanwhile, Terrafirma picked Jordan Heading, NorthPort selected Will Navarro, NLEX nabbed Tzaddy Rangel, and TNT chose Jaydee Tungcab in the special Gilas draft.

The four will be loaned to the national team as part of the PBA’s commitment to backstop the national federation’s preparations for the 2023 Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup, which will be held in multiple sites, including the Philippines. INQ

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TAGS: Basketball, Johnedel Cardel, PBA, Sports
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