On a day when Justin Arana was catching the fancy of coaches watching him at the draft combine for PBA rookie aspirants, another Justin made headlines after he declined to join this year’s hopefuls.
Justin Baltazar, the 6-foot-8 pride of La Salle who also played for Gilas Pilipinas last year, withdrew his application from the PBA Draft to pursue an offer from a team in the Japan B.League.
With Baltazar out of the equation, Arana suddenly moved up as among the potential top overall rookie pick as Blackwater is out to make the 6-foot-6 center among its options on Sunday Draft Day at the Robinsons Place in Manila.
Bossing coach Ariel Vanguardia confirmed to ABS-CBN News the likelihood of the Arellano stalwart being included as among its prospects for the No.1 overall pick.
“Yes, he’s now part of our options,” Vanguardia wrote via Messenger. “He looks PBA ready.”
This means that Arana will be included in Blackwater’s short list for the top overall pick along with Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Sedrick Barefield, the former G League player, who is still awaiting the release of his Philippine passport.
Ganuelas-Rosser has applied for the draft as early as last year, but was considered ineligible after failing to submit the necessary requirements to the PBA.
But with a more relaxed set of rules for foreign born Filipino players this time, there’s no stopping Ganuelas-Rosser from joining this year’s cast.
After failing to join the draft last year, Ganuelas-Rosser opted to see action in the PBA 3x3 tournament, a standalone league where he powered the Limitless Appmasters to the inaugural grand championship.
Ganuelas-Rosser and the rest of the Appmasters are headed to the Southeast Asian Games to represent the Philippine 3x3 team.
Arana caught the attention of coaches who watched him play during the draft combine and he excelled during the scrimmages.
One of those teams who were keeping an eye on Arana was NLEX and Borgie Hermida, an assistant coach sent by the Road Warriors to observe the aspirants who described how the promising big man could be an asset to any team.
“He has the size, wide body and knows how to position himself on getting those rebounds,” wrote Hermida via Viber message. “He’s a traditional big man. He’s a good screener and a great roller.”
But with NLEX picking only at No. 7, teams ahead of the Road Warriors are expected to line up to get Arana.
Rain Or Shine had a closer look at Arana, who was invited by the squad to work out with them. The Elasto Painters will be selecting twice in the first round at No. 5 and No. 10.
“We had an opportunity to take a look up close and personal on Justin and we liked what we saw. He was able to hold his own right away against our more experienced big men, but what I liked most about him was, he was a fast learner. He was able to pick up details quickly while we were constantly making changes in our defense schemes,” said head coach Chris Gavina. “He has a strong frame and good hands.”