From Slaughter to Bringas: Grading the 2013 PBA Draft


THE PBA DRAFT is truly a place of wonders: it is where hopes and dreams of fine, young men come true after years spent under the hot summer sun playing out buzzer-beating scenarios and holding up the follow through with matching full extension just a second longer.


This year's edition drew some of the Junemar Fajardo-Calvin Abueva Year in which it was top heavy with definite shoo-ins (Greg Slaughter, Ian Sangalang and Raymond Almazan), it was as deep as the Paul Lee-JV Casio-Chris Lutz-Marcio Lassiter Year and it had that league-shaking, first round trade shocker reminiscent of when the Alaska Aces decided to send PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes for a middle pick.


Twists and turns were aplenty just when everybody thought that they could simply pencil in names of rookie applicants.


Here's how Solar Sports Desk graded the recently concluded (and quite insane and highly entertaining) 2013 PBA Draft:



Air21 Express (Grade: D)
16th - Eric Camson, 21st - Joshua Webb, 32nd - Angelo Ingco, 52nd - Randolph Chua

Just to be clear here, this team opted to draft Joshua Webb instead of a guy they clearly need- point guard L.A. Revilla. Camson is a solid hybrid forward who could one day start at power forward for this team, but Webb? Seriously? Either this team is banking on Wynne Arboleda and Pamboy Raymundo to turn things around for them at point guard, or they know something we don't. Another trade perhaps? We noticed that there are guys named Wilson and Maierhofer over at the Barako Bull camp… Just saying.


Alaska Aces (Grade: B)
8th - Ryan Buenafe, 18th - Chris Exciminiano, 28th - Raymund Ilagan

When PBA Commissioner Chito Salud went up the stage to formally announce the Aces' pick, we went bananas. Absolute bananas. These are no longer your daddy's Alaska Aces. These are your neighborhood kanto boys who spend all afternoons smelling like evaporated beer sweat, sun and dirt while playing high octane, matira-matibay basketball. Buenafe has all the tools in excelling in the PBA with the only real concerns being his weight (all while learning from the league's most under the radar star Cyrus Baguio). Well, the guy looked mighty trim on draft day and shared the stage with reigning PBA Rookie of the Year Calvin Abueva. You simply cannot make this stuff up. Either the two become best of friends, or someone gets in someone's face and all hell breaks loose at the Aces' "we not me" bench. Exciminiano is also another nice pick to help out in the guard positions.


Barako Bull Energy Cola (Grade: F)
14th - Jeric Fortuna, 20th - Carlo Lastimosa, 23rd - Darwin Cordero, 33rd - Jett Vidal, 43rd - Mike Silungan

If you are "given" the 4th, 5th and 6th picks in a loaded PBA Draft that could ultimately land you a couple of "ready to win now" A-listers, you simply do not trade them away. Through draft day trades they added an aging guard in 2x PBA MVP Willie Miller, undersized power forward Willie Wilson, underachieving Rico Maierhofer, another under-sized power forward in Mark Isip and the still raw Magi Sison. We love the Fortuna, Lastimosa and Cordero picks because they're all pretty solid guards (money's on Cordero breaking through first) but it's pretty obvious that this team is not in the league to win games-- not with shady moves such as the one we all saw on draft day.


Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (Grade: B+)
1st - Greg Slaughter, 4th (from Barako Bull) - James Forrester, 34th - John Usita, 44th - Alvin Padilla, 54th - Jens Knuttel

Before everyone freaks out with the addition of 7"0 centre Slaughter, expectations should be managed and the Barangay faithful should remember that getting the "other" Cebuano big man doesn't mean that they have a JuneMar Fajardo 20 and 10 monster right away (the video guys showed him fumbling the ball in his highlight montage). Though Slaughter is already better than any of their resident bigs, he still needs to develop a post game and also learn to dominate on the defensive end be it through rebounding, shot blocking or just being a presence for Ginebra. The addition of Forrester was a brilliant move, specially if Forrester pans out in becoming the ideal PBA MVP Mark Caguioa understudy. With L.A. Tenorio already setting up the table, Ginebra doesn't really need another Caguioa, but rather, someone who they can rely on be it from hitting open jump shots or just bridging the offensive lulls when Tenorio and Caguioa are seated. Considering all the facts, we see Ginebra's draft day moves as an investment for the future rather than right off the bat. For Slaughter's sake, we pray that they kept Eric Menk's number on speed dial.


GlobalPort Batang Pier (Grade: A)
5th (from Barako Bull via Petron) Terrence Romeo, 6th (from Barako Bull) - RR Garcia, 7th - Isaac Holstein, 11th - Nico Salva, 22nd- Jopher Custodio, 34th (from Ginebra) - LA Revilla

This is the young core that we all hoped and prayed that Barako Bull would have more or less. Well, that team's loss is another's gain-- and what a great gain that is. Romeo and Garcia are going to be reunited (fortunately or unfortunately for the both of them) and can come in right away to back each other up at the point position while veteran Sol Mercado moves up to shooting guard (again, only by position because you don't want Romeo wasting his God-given talents simply passing the balls to guys less talented scoring-wise than he is). The team was also able to snag Enrico Villanueva on a draft day trade which pretty much makes them a solid team all around. They can field a starting five of Romeo, Mercado, Washington, Nabong and Villanueva while having in guys like Garcia, Holstein, Salva off the bench. The kids will need some time adjusting to the physicality of the PBA, but they are definitely on the right track as far as building a PBA title contender is concerned. Hopefully, they will be allowed to hold on to the pieces that they have for a long time.  And Revilla as your 34th pick? When healthy, this dude is better than your Emman Monfort.


Meralco Bolts (Grade: D)
26th - Anjo Caram, 36th - Mike Parala, 46th - Mark Lopez, 56th - John Gonzales, 66th - Mark Bringas

Of all the Bolts' picks, we love the Lopez acquisition since he's pretty much a stronger, more athletic version of Paul Artadi. Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch since Artadi is a solid playmaker when given a chance to run the system (and when he's not being forced to take jump shots which he has never bothered to learn at this point in his career), but Lopez was pretty solid in college as a 6"0 ball handler. And Caram being drafted by this team was pretty much a reminder to us all that this is an MVP-owned team.


Petron Blaze Boosters (Grade: C)
25th - Sam Marata, 35th - Nate Matute

We were quite surprised that the Boosters opted NOT to keep that Barako Bull draft pick that was traded to them, sending it to GlobalPort instead (which turned out to be none other than Terrence Romeo) and were happy to add feisty big man Yousef Taha into the fold. We said in an earlier piece that with their loaded roster, adding a big man that new cornerstone JuneMar Fajardo could sharpen his claws with would be in their best interests. Marata is a solid shooter with PBA height although he needs to work on his conditioning and defense, Matute comes in as another serviceable player who can be a solid offensive force who can give Ronald Tubid a run for his money-- on the court or at the nearest tattoo parlor.


Rain or Shine ElastoPainters (Grade: B+)
3rd - Raymond Almazan, 9th - Alex Nuyles, 12th - Jeric Teng, 19th - Gayford Rodriguez, 29th - Ervic Vijandre

There are players who enter the PBA with eyes wide open with sheer joy and enthusiasm, and there are those who are already battle-scarred and ready to get the job done. The ElastoPainters have always wanted a rebounding, shot-blocking rim protector who could move (as well as see when standing straight with no belly to block his view) his feet and cover a lot of ground. That's not a knock on resident bigs Beau Belga and JR Quinahan, who do great in setting screens and dishing out heavy hits but their weight keep them grounded most of the time. Almazan can take his time and learn from these big burly guys while utilizing his speed. He needs to add some more weight, but even if he doesn't, Rafi Reavis has shown us all not to count out the reed-thin bigs. Nuyles and Teng are also just what the doctor prescribed for the ElastoPainters given their knack for not having a premium quality creator every time point guard Paul Lee gets injured (which, sadly, is becoming a norm for him). Nuyles is Ronjay Buenafe minus the weight and indecisiveness (because he's pretty much wired to just drop buckets and go) while Jeric Teng is Chris Calaguio (great basketball IQ, "veteran" moves despite not having a quick first step). And Ervic Vijandre, showbiz connections aside, can ball as a 3rd or 4th string backup point guard. Also, with Chris Tiu, Teng and Vijandre all on the roster this team's "showbiz swag" just went up a few notches.


San Mig Coffee Mixers (Grade: A-)
2nd - Ian Sangalang, 10th - Justin Chua, 13th - Justin Melton, 30th - JR Cawaling

And the rich just keep getting richer. Not only did the Mixers land the best big man talent in the entire draft (Sangalang; daresay the last five years), but they were also able to fortify their frontline with another big in Chua a.k.a. Mixers' head coach Tim Cone's "Gian Chiu do-over." Sangalang can start right away alongside Marc Pingris as the Pampanga native is a natural talent scoring wise. He's pretty much a more grounded, no crossover, post-playing Joe DeVance who doesn't shy away from contact (self-initiated or otherwise). Justin Melton is also a steal for the Mixers, as he can be developed into the Mixers' version of Talk'n'Text's Jayson Castro. He needs a lot of refinement though offensively, but the natural gifts and athleticism are there. Fortunately, he'll be able to learn from Cone, Johnny Abarrientos AND Olsen Racela. Another steal for the Mixers is Cawaling who will have a hard time cracking the PJ Simon-James Yap-Allein Maliksi rotation at the wings, but is definitely serviceable when called upon as a 3rd string two-way player.


Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters (Grade: C)
15th (from Alaska) – JP Erram, 17th - Robby Celiz, 27th - Eliud Poligrates, 37th - Oping Sumalinog, 47th - Byron Villarias

Other than getting Erram who is pretty much their fail safe if ever the "revive Noy Baclao's basketball career" project doesn't pan out, the Texters were unable to make any notable moves. If anything, we simply cannot wait for Poligrates to drive Texters' head coach Norman Black nuts once he breaks out the street ball handles.


All in all, it was a great day for the future of Philippine basketball as a dozen or so names are expected to contribute right away for their respective teams. What started off as a "weak" rookie pool changed in a matter of weeks to become arguably one of the deepest in league history. Now it's up to the new guys to prove their worth and show the fans that they belong in Asia's premiere basketball league.


Follow the writer on Twitter: @AinjVelasco


Angel Velasco Angel Velasco Twitter: @AinjVelasco
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