MANILA, Philippines -- This early, NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao has made it known that he has high expectations for their rookie forward Calvin Oftana.
The Road Warriors selected Oftana with the third pick in the PBA Rookie Draft last March.
Oftana opted to forego his final season of eligibility with San Beda University. He was the Most Valuable Player of the NCAA in 2019, averaging 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game for a San Beda team that swept the elimination round of Season 95 before losing to rivals Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the finals.
"We have probably a really good candidate for the Rookie of the Year, I feel, and that's going to be Calvin Oftana," Guiao said in an appearance on "The Gilas Zone."
"He's the MVP of the NCAA. We got him at No. 3 in the draft, and ...this draft was a deep draft compared to probably previous years," he noted.
TerraFirma selected Joshua Munzon at No. 1, while NorthPort made De La Salle University forward Jamie Malonzo the second overall pick.
Oftana is expected to make an immediate impact for NLEX, who will still have the All-Star backcourt of Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas as their anchors, as well as versatile swingman Jericho Cruz.
But Guiao has no doubt that Oftana will become a featured player for the team, and he won't be surprised if he ends up getting called up to the national team in the future as well.
Oftana has already played for Gilas Pilipinas in the November 2020 window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, putting up nine points, four rebounds and four assists in just 15 minutes when the Philippines routed Thailand, 93-69.
"I think, Calvin Oftana is going to be a shoo-in in this team," Guiao said, noting that Oftana could have opted to join the "special draft" for Gilas but instead decided to put his name in the regular draft instead.
Had Oftana decided to be in the Gilas draft, Guiao said he is confident that he would have made Tab Baldwin's lineup and shone in the recent FIBA Asia Cup qualifying window in Clark, Pampanga, where the national team went 3-0.
"I have no doubt that Calvin Oftana would have broken into this lineup and could have given a good account of himself," said Guiao.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: