MANILA, Philippines - Little excitement is expected in the 2009 PBA Rookie Draft but the event could well be remembered in league history for a long time.
It’s Japeth Aguilar Draft Day.
Aguilar, tipped to be the next most dominant big man in Philippine basketball, will be unveiled in the draft exercise, marking his formal entry into the local pro league.
The draft proceedings start at 4 p.m. at Market! Market! Place at the Fort in Taguig with the 6-foot-9 behemoth out of Ateneo and Western Kentucky U set to be selected by Burger King as No. 1 overall.
“We have decided that we will pick Japeth. Mukhang mahirap talagang i-pass up ang chance na ito,” said Burger King governor and team manager Lito Alvarez.
“Actually we’ll have another meeting before the draft. We instructed our assistant coaches to watch the PBA Rookie Camp and make a report. But as far as coach Yeng (Guiao) is concerned, it’s Japeth,” Alvarez added.
Fifty-three players made the draft roster which coaches and league watchers consider a shallow one.
They say outside of Aguilar, the only other big names in the list are Rico Maierhofer, Christopher Ross and Jervy Cruz.
Maierhofer is likely to go to Purefoods, Ross to Burger King and Cruz to Rain or Shine.
Defending Philippine Cup champion Talk ‘N Text and Coca-Cola have no picks in the first round. Only a maximum of 19 of the 53 applicants will be selected in the two-round Rookie Draft since the No. 2 pick belongs to the defunct Shell ball club.
The complete first round draft order is Burger King, Purefoods, Burger King, Rain or Shine, Alaska, Barako Bull, Ginebra, Burger King and San Miguel Beer.
Then it’s Sta. Lucia, Barako Bull, Barako Bull, Burger King, Rain or Shine, Alaska, Ginebra, Talk n Text and Burger King in the second round.
Outside of the four, players with a good chance of getting drafted are Edwin Asoro, Ronnie Matias, Marcelino Arellano, Bryan Faundo, Ogie Menor and Chris Timberlake.
Ross, Timberlake, Joshua Urbiztondo, John Walsham, Charles Waters and Ramsey Williams are the Fil-foreign players making the list.
Completing the roster are Francis Allera, Mark Lester Benitez, Charleston Bolias, Leemore Boliver, Glenn Bolocon, Michael Burtscher, Jorel Canizares, Jerome Cenita, Sean Co, Dino Daa, Orlando Daroya, Floyd Dedicatoria, Jerby del Rosario, Axel John Doruelo, Allan Evangelista, Kim Gatchalian, Benedict Fernandez, Roel Hugnatan, Kim Macanig, Emmanuel Malasig, Roser Mangahas, Hafer Mondragon, Jobe Nkemakolam, Gerry Orera, Luis Palaganas, Jonathan Parreno, Jonathan Penera, Andro Quinday, Howard Saddi, Richard Saladaga, James Sena, Jonathan Uyloan, Jan Philip Villavber, Jim Viray and Jemal Vizcara.
“I’m excited to join the draft and be picked No. 1. Hopefully, I can live up to expectation,” said Aguilar, a member of Powerade Team Pilipinas set to compete in the Fiba-Asia championship in Tianjin, China.
The 22-year-old Aguilar is son of ex-former national and pro player Peter Aguilar. His combination of height and quickness is rare for a local player.
“He’s still a lot to improve but I expect him to be a dominant player in the league in the near future,” said Guiao.