Rain or Shine for Gabe; best picks to TnT

By NELSON BELTRAN, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 01 2008 01:11 AM | Updated as of Sep 02 2008 03:25 AM

For the Rain or Shine (formerly Welcoat) management, the improvement of the team in the coming PBA season is "a must" following their acquisition of two talented draftees in Gabe Norwood and TY Tang from the 2008 PBA Rookie Draft Sunday.

Talk n Text is also looking forward to a better season after getting four promising players from draft, including one through a trade transaction consummated on the draft floor.

The Phone Pals acquired Jared Dillinger, Jason Castro, Rob Reyes and Pong Escobal in the well-attended draft exercise at the Market! Market! in Taguig, hinting at a major overhaul of TnT roster.

Magnolia yielded its rights for the No. 3 pick to get Jay Washington from Talk n Text which, in turn, used the pick to get Castro.

Rain or Shine, as expected, made Norwood the first pick then Talk n Text enlisted Dillinger, Castro and Reyes for the second, third and fourth picks.

Solomon Mercado went to Alaska at No. 5 before Mark Borboran was picked at No. 6 by Air21, Beau Belga by Purefoods at No. 7, Bonbon Custodio by Magnolia at No. 8, Larry Rodriguez by Red Bull at No. 9 and Kelvin Gregorio by Sta. Lucia at No. 10.

Only nine players were chosen in the second round with Escobal going to Talk n Text, Tang to Rain or Shine, Cholo Villanueva to Air21, Chito Jaime and Christian Cabatu to Sta. Lucia, Kelvin dela Peña to Alaska, Jonathan Fernandez to Purefoods and Jeff Chan and Mark Cuevas to Red Bull.

"It’d been a long year and a half of waiting. I’m happy I’ve finally made it," said Norwood after realizing his dream of making it to the PBA.

The lone amateur player in the RP team to the 2007 Tokushima FIBA-Asia championship became the seventh Fil-Am player picked No. 1 overall in the annual draft, following in the footsteps of Andy Seigle in 1997, Sonny Alvarado in 1999, Mike Cortez in 2003, Washington in 2005, Kelly Williams in 2006 and Joe Devance in 2007.

"I’m bringing in my work ethic and hopefully I can help the team get wins," said the 23-year-old former George Mason U stalwart.

"Definitely, our lineup has improved. The positions we’re lacking talents in have been filled up," said Rain or Shine co-owner Raymund Yu.

"Dapat lang na mag-improve ang performance ng team," said Terry Que, the other Rain or Shine team owner.

The two said the contract awaiting Norwood is the maximum allowable in the league. That’s worth P8.7 million in three years.

The Rain or Shine management and coaching staff considered Tang, the former La Salle chief playmaker, "a big steal" at No. 12.

Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes, meanwhile, said they were forced by situation to trade Washington since league rules permit no more than five Fil-Am players per team.

The exit of Washington allowed the Pals to pick Dillinger and Reyes. The other Fil-Ams in the Talk n Text lineup are Jimmy Alapag, Ali Peek and Harvey Carey.

"Now, we’ve got a new team. First we’re younger, second more versatile and third and most important, we’ve got a number of veterans. It means we’re competitive at the present while also looking good in the future," said Reyes.

"We’ve got four new players. They’ll all be signed up and all will play…. That’s the plan," Reyes added.