2013 PBA Draft Vibes Part Two

The 2013 PBA Draft was one of the most interesting in recent memory, thanks in no small part to the slew of transactions and surprises that happened right on the floor! Let’s take a look back at each team’s picks and see where they stand.

Meralco Bolts
Picks: Anjo Caram, Mike Parala, Mark Lopez, John Gonzales, Mark Bringas
Right off the bat, this one is easy. None of these rookies have a sure shot of cracking Meralco’s final roster. Caram is a Monfort-type of point guard, but with the team already having guys like Mike Cortez, AJ Mandani, and Paul Artadi, fat chance he will make the lineup or see much action should he do so. Parala and Bringas are burly inside operators, but, again, I don’t see them supplanting any of the mainstays. Well, perhaps with the exception of James Sena. Lopez, for his part, will also find the going tough replacing any of the Bolts’ tried-and-tested wingmen. At best, some of these draftees will be D-League players by day and then practice players by night. Oh, and the chances of any of these guys playing juicy parts in a blockbuster trade? Umm… no.
GV or BV? The Bolts will be competitive this season, but not because of what they did during draft day. BV.

Anjo Caram is all too happy to have
 heard his name called.

Petron Blaze Boosters
Picks: Sam Marata, Nate Matute
These are actually two quality picks for Petron, simply because the Boosters weren’t really planning on building through the draft anyway. Sure, they gave away their entire third string frontline in exchange for a fifth pick and then traded away said pick for (insert drumroll) Yousef Taha. Woopee. I expect that Marata and Matute will both make the roster as third-string wingmen, but nothing more. Of course, the Petron brain trust can also add either/both to sweeten a transaction, and, in my opinion, this would make sense. With only Doug Kramer, Taha, and an aging Danny Ildefonso backing up June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos up front, the Boosters would do well to get another big, if at least as an insurance policy. So, what does Petron get with Marata and Matute? Both are pretty streaky shooters who can spread the floor, but they’ve already got much better guys like Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz to do that anyway, so I guess we know who’s riding the pine, right?
GV or BV? I would have wanted Petron to keep the fifth pick and use it on either Justin Chua or Isaac Holstein. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Kinda BV right here.

Sam Marata and Nate Matute can be designated/situational
shooters for the Boosters.

Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters
Picks: Raymond Almazan, Alex Nuyles, Jeric Teng, Gayford Rodriguez, Ervic Vijandre
The Painters played things smart and got a little lucky in this draft. Everyone knew they would take Letran’s 6’7 beanpole Almazan at third pick, and they did. That was supposed to be the easiest decision of the day, and then they found themselves choosing between Alex Nuyles and Jeric Teng for the ninth pick. That was, mind you, a little unexpected, since a lot of people pegged Nuyles to go earlier than ninth, but, lo and behold, the Aces were able to take him. By then, any hopes of maybe getting Teng had all but evaporated. No way a talent like Teng would still be available three picks down the line, right? Wrong. With the second pick in the second round, Lady Luck was smiling on the Painters, as Teng was overlooked for the likes of Ateneans Justin Chua (first round tenth pick) and Nico Salva (second round first pick). Now THIS was the easiest decision for coach Yeng Guiao’s staff. They got Teng, and that pretty much set them up for one of the best hauls of the draft. As of this writing, it has been reported that all three picks have already been tendered contract offers by the Rain or Shine franchise, and I don’t see any reason for things to fall through. Almazan will still need some bulking up to do (hello, three cups of rice PER meal!), but his length and athleticism should complement the burly but undersized frontline of the Painters quite well. Nuyles has a great shot at maybe being the immediate back-up at SF (behind Gabe Norwood), especially if he proves to be nearly as good a defender as Jireh Ibañes is. Teng, for his part, shouldn’t mind playing behind Jeff Chan and Ryan Araña at the off-guard spot, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he challenges for major minutes by midseason. The other two picks – Rodriguez and Vijandre – might find it hard to get burn time, if they even make the cut at all. In all, I love what ROS did mainly because they were able to address a pressing need (size) and get complementary talents for their already loaded wing spots.
GV or BV? Rain or Shine was already quite formidable the past two seasons, but now they should be perennial title contenders. Good vibes, Extra Rice Boys!

Raymond Almazan, Jeric Teng, and Alex Nuyles lead a rich
rookie haul for the Rain or Shine squad.

San Mig Coffee Mixers
Picks: Ian Sangalang, Justin Chua (since traded to GlobalPort for Isaac Holstein), Justin Melton, JR Cawaling
Fact: The 2013 PBA Govs’ Cup champions don’t have much room for improvement because, well, they’re already very very good. The Mixers, however, still found a way to get better by drafting maybe the most skillful big man in the draft – Ian Sangalang. The former San Sebastian Golden Stag was already PBA-ready as early as last year, but he added another year of maturity and this surely makes him even more of a nightmare in the low block. He has great footwork, a nice touch from midrange, and a great nose for the ball. He has great timing as a weakside defender and has an unfailing motor. In short, he’s like a taller Marc Pingris, which means opposing frontlines, even if they may be bigger, will have a really tough time beating SMC to the boards. This early, I expect Sangalang to start many games in place of Yancy De Ocampo and Rafi Reavis. He is that good. SMC also added even more size when they traded away Chua for Holstein, who is a 6’9 blocking machine. I see the former US Air Force guy being a project early in the season, though. I suspect Reavis and De Ocampo will still get most of the back-up minutes at the slot, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Holstein slides in with increasing frequency as the season wears on. I also smell a trade coming as the Mixers will surely want more flexibility, say, at the small forward spot (hey, how about trading these aging bigs to Petron for Chris Lutz? Not straight up, of course). On another note, I think Cawaling was also a bit of a steal. The underappreciated former FEU Tamaraw can still hack it, and I believe all he needs is the opportunity to show his wares. Remember Larry Fonacier (picked 15th overall in 2005) shocking everyone when he won the 2006 Rookie of the Year plum? I see Cawaling (at least the sweet-shooting version of himself) having the capacity to do the same. Melton, too, is a steal as the thirteenth pick. The former Gilas cadet and KL Dragon should make both Alex Mallari and Mark Barroca sweat extra during practice. My jaw won’t drop if Melton actually starts more than a few games for coach Tim Cone.
GV or BV? No team can go wrong with Sangalang, and the other three picks are solid young talents that only made this champion squad all the more formidable. Definitely a hefty amount of good vibes!

The Mixers have a promising young pool of talent to add to their star-studded core.

Talk N Text Tropang Texters
Picks: JP Erram, Robby Celiz, Eliud Poligrates, Oping Sumalinog, John Villarias
Let’s see. Erram and Sumalinog are the customary Ateneo picks (this is an MVP team, remember?), while Poligrates and Villarias are players who, unless they overperform in practices, are destined for, at best, the end of the bench. Perhaps the most intriguing pick here is former NU Bulldog and Blackwater stalwart Robby Celiz. Most UAAP fans won’t really give Celiz a second look because he wasn’t used very effectively in NU, but he really showcased his skills for Blackwater in the D-League. He has great size, great mobility, and the capability to hit from midrange. I actually see Celiz cracking the final roster and giving old reliable (emphasis on “old”) Harvey Carey a run for his money as the main back-up to RaniDirk. Erram should make the final cut, too, if only to be the insurance/third-string center behind Ali Peek and Noy Baclao. Interestingly enough, Erram was touted to be Baclao’s heir apparent in Ateneo, but he was never really able to bloom because of a few nagging injuries. Here’s to hoping both Blue Eagle bigs can do well for coach Norman Black. Overall, I think TNT was one of the teams that didn’t need to build through the draft. What coach Norman has here is one of the deepest teams in the league (four Gilas guys!!!), and the Texters will definitely still be considered one of the main title contenders in the upcoming Philippine Cup despite their relatively shallow rookie haul.
GV or BV? I do think picking someone like Cawaling or Paul Sanga in the second round would have given TNT more flexibility at the SF position, but, like I wrote, this is still a championship-caliber team anyway. Not so good vibes on the picks, but good vibes for the season.

JP Erram and Robby Celiz should be shoo-ins to make TNT's final roster.

All photos are by Pranz Kaeno Billones/InterAKTV.

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