Record 65 players picked in PBA Rookie Draft

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2021 08:15 PM

Record 65 players picked in PBA Rookie Draft 1
Joshua Munzon (R), the top overall pick of the PBA Rookie Draft, and Jed Mendoza (L), the last pick of the draft.

MANILA - A record 65 players were taken in the PBA Season 46 Rookie Draft on Sunday, with four players selected in a special Gilas Pilipinas round before the regular draft progressed as scheduled.

Jordan Heading, William Navarro, Tzaddy Rangel, and Jaydee Tungcab all became full-time Gilas Pilipinas players after they were selected by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in a special round.

From there, the teams went on to make 61 more selections, starting with TerraFirma's pick of Joshua Munzon with the first overall pick, until NorthPort took Jed Mendoza with the lone pick of the eighth round. 

The 65 players were the most ever selected in the history of the PBA Rookie Draft. Before this year, the record was the 54 selections made in 2015, which saw Moala Tautuaa emerge as the top overall pick for Talk 'N Text.

There were 86 players qualified for the Rookie Draft this season.

"Excited ako, kasi nakita ko ng maglaro itong mga magiging rookies natin. 'Yung credentials nila, maganda," said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial after the proceedings, which took place in virtual fashion with the players appearing via Zoom.

"Maganda itong laban na 'to," the commissioner also predicted of the upcoming season.

The first round mostly went as projected, before Barangay Ginebra pulled off a surprise with the selection of Ken Holmqvist with the 12th pick.

The second and third rounds saw Blackwater Bossing load up on players after missing out on the first round. Notably, they took Andre Paras in the third round, giving the son of PBA legend Benjie a chance to make a name for himself in the league.

Former San Sebastian star RK Ilagan also dropped to the third round, with Alaska taking him with the 31st overall pick.

University of the Philippines guard Jun Manzo was among the players who went off the board in the fourth round. He was taken by Blackwater as well, reuniting him with former UP teammate Paul Desiderio.

Former University of the East guard Philip Manalang and former Adamson University guard Jerie Pingoy lasted all the way to the fifth round. They were taken by Rain or Shine and Phoenix with the 50th and 52nd overall picks, respectively.

The Batang Pier wound up as the only team picking in the eighth round, and they used it to select Mendoza, who played for Jose Rizal University before completing his collegiate career in UE in 2019.

The Rookie Draft was the first official activity of the PBA for its 46th season. The league is still in the process of gaining approval from the government to open its competition in April, with two conferences planned.