2014 PBA Dispersal Draft Impressions: Blackwater Sports

When the 2014-2015 PBA regular season opens later this year, we will see three new teams take to the floor: the NLEX Road Warriors, Blackwater Sports, and Kia Motors.

Of these three, only NLEX has a relatively intact lineup after it bought the existing franchise of the Air 21 Express. Blackwater and Kia, on the other hand, had to go through a dispersal draft to fill up its roster spots. 

In this first of two parts, I will take a look at the dispersal draft picks of Blackwater and give my general impression.

First off, however, let’s be realistic. In the absence of the opportunity to directly hire from the PBA D-League, our expectations for both Blackwater and Kia this season are not exactly sky high. Still, there is something to say about choosing the right building blocks for the future.

Alex Nuyles and Danny Ildefonso will spearhead this dangerously
shallow Blackwater lineup.

Blackwater’s Dispersal Draft Picks:
Danny Ildefonso - PF - 6’6 - 37 years old
Alex Nuyles - G/F - 6’3 - 25 years old
JR Cawaling - G/F - 6’5 - 26 years old
Eddie Laure - F - 6’3 - 37 years old
Bryan Faundo - C - 6’6 - 30 years old
JP Erram - C - 6’7 - 25 years old
Paul Artadi - PG - 5’9 - 33 years old
Gilbert Bulawan - F/C - 6’4 - 27 years old
Bambam Gamalinda - F - 6’3 - 28 years old
Chris Timberlake - PG - 5’11 - 29 years old
Norman Gonzalez - F - 6’4 - 38 years old
Robby Celiz - F - 6’4 - 25 years old

(image by Solar Sports Desk)

What immediately jumps out at me is how old this team is. I count 7 guys who are 28 or older, including 5 who are 30 and up. I mean, I remember watching Ildefonso, Laure, and Gonzalez play college ball when I was still in high school. And here they are, still at it in the pros. That’s a testament to their durability and utility, of course, but it’s also a testament to the drought of talent available to these expansion clubs. The funny thing is, at the end of the day, Ildefonso might end up still being the best player on this team. Will he do an Asi Taulava and become one of the league’s top five players? Hell no, but given the shallowness of its roster, Blackwater will have little else to do other than dumping the ball down low to the two-time MVP. 

The most promising building blocks for me? How about Alex Nuyles, JR Cawaling, JP Erram, and Robby Celiz? Of those four, only Nuyles has a puncher’s chance of maybe becoming All-Star material in the future (and that’s a huge maybe), but all four of these kids can at least be serviceable role players around established stars. Who knows — a few shrewd transactions here and there and getting a top rookie or two might actually make Blackwater a legit threat in maybe two to three years, right?

FYI: Based on PBADraft.net, the projected rookie picks for Blackwater this year are Jericho Cruz and Juami Tiongson. Cruz is pretty much a Nuyles clone, while Juami could be a solid pro playmaker if he can learn under the tutelage of veteran Paul Artadi (playmaking, okay, not shooting).

Still, at least in the Philippine Cup, I don’t think Blackwater will be favored in any of its games (unless it’s against fellow expansion club, Kia, of course). If they get awesome imports in the reinforced conferences, however, then maybe they can crack the knockout rounds.

Given how shallow the dispersal draft was, I still think Blackwater ended up with a roster possessing a good level of veteran experience and a handful of solid foundation pieces for the future. It’s not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, but at least they didn’t really tank like hell.

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