PBA: With 3 1st-round picks in rookie draft, Blackwater’s Vanguardia shares wish list

Rey Joble

Posted at Apr 25 2022 09:25 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2022 01:44 AM

Gilas Pilipinas big man and La Salle Green Archers standout Justin Baltazar. Cerebral guard and ABL champion Jason Brickman. PBA 3x3 stalwart Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser. Asian import Caelan Tiongson. And NBA G League rising star Sedrick Barefield.

These players comprise Blackwater head coach Ariel Vanguardia's wish list for the coming PBA rookie draft. And although there are no list of aspirants yet coming from Asia's pioneering professional basketball league, the Bossing are excited to take the first crack of selecting a player from the annual festivity.

"Wala pang list, kaya mahirap. But if I were to make a wish list, these are the players I'm wishing to join the coming PBA Rookie Draft," Vanguardia wrote via Messenger to ABS-CBN News.

Baltazar, according to Vanguardia, tops his wish list since the team is looking for a game-changing big man.

The 6-foot-8 pride of Pampanga used to play for Gilas Pilipinas for two years when the team was still under head coach Tab Baldwin.

He has been La Salle's main man in the middle in the UAAP and teams are obviously lining up to get his services.

Vanguardia has a more fitting description for Baltazar, who sees similarities of his skill set to two-time MVP and NBA champion Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

If Baltazar will apply for the Rookie Draft, Blackwater can easily beat everybody to the draw. 

"Sana and’yan si Justin Baltazar," added Vanguardia. "Sky is the limit for Justin. Ala Giannis siya if he can continue to improve and play multiple positions."

Vanguardia also sees the value of the other players he included on his wish list.

"Ganuelas-Rosser is an inside-outside big man and a very good shot-blocker, so he can give your team an instant rim protector," he added.

The younger brother of Matt Ganuelas-Rosser is a member of the inaugural season PBA 3x3 grand champion Limitless Appmasters and has had stints playing for Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League.

Tiongson, meanwhile, previously saw action for Alab Pilipinas, but the 6-foot-5 swingman has been impressive playing in Taiwan's T1 League with the Taoyuan Leopards.

"He's been playing exceptionally well as Asian import and he plays like Danny Seigle," Vanguardia said.

In the recent PBA season, US-raised Filipino Mikey Williams made a huge splash as a rookie player. 

Already a seasoned professional campaigner, he entered the PBA ready for the high caliber of play and the former NBA D-League standout didn't disappoint and led the TNT Tropang Giga to winning the Philippine Cup.

Vanguardia sees similarities between Barefield and Williams and the 6-foot-2 guard playing for the Oklahoma City Blue – the Thunder's farm team in the G League – has been averaging close to double figures. Should Barefield join the PBA Rookie Draft, he'll definitely be a sure hit. 

Including Brickman on his wish list isn't surprising for Vanguardia, who coached Brickman when they won the ABL championship in 2016 with the Malaysia Westport Dragons.

"He's the best passing point guard in Asia and I won a championship with him," added Vanguardia. "His team in Taiwan won the regular season."

Brickman also played for Mighty Sports, who represented the country in the Asian club tournament William Jones Cup three years ago.