WITH still a full day left before the PBA closes its doors on those who want to join the league’s Season 46 Draft on March 14, the number of applicants is tantalizingly close to establishing a new league record.
According to Commissioner Willie Marcial, more than 80 players have submitted their papers, with additional applicants projected to submit theirs before today’s 5 p.m. deadline.
The previous high of applicants who made it through the draft proper was 91 during the Stanley Pringle-led 2014 class.
Marcial said the more relaxed requirements for a player to be allowed to enter the draft, plus the uncertainties in other leagues brought about by the pandemic, helped prompt mostly amateur stars to try their luck in the draft.
“Iyung ibang mga nasa MPBL, ABL, UAAP, di alam kung ano mangyayari sa liga nila, susubok na lang dito sa atin,”Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“Plus, doon sa (PBA) D-League na wala na iyung kailangan nakapaglaro ka ng seven games. Ngayon inalis na natin iyon and at the same time iyung sumali sa draft, p’wede na agad maglaro sa D-League,” added Marcial.
The number of players the 12 PBA teams can choose from may be pruned down should the SBP ask for a special draft so that it could get more players for its national pool.
That scenario would be raised and decided on during a PBA Board meeting tomorrow.
Still, there should be enough left to go around, especially for Terrafirma and NLEX, which pick first and second overall, respectively.
A PBA insider also said the likes of Justin Baltazar, Calvin Oftana, Aljun Melecio and Javi Gomez de Liano could also be joining the fray, as well as other less known but with PBA-ready games.
“Baka may Fil-Am na biglang pumasok, di natin alam,” the source said.
The present crop is teeming with stars, led by Joshua Munzon and Jamie Malonzo, each highly touted to go no lower than second overall.
Jason Brickman, Jeremiah Gray and 3×3 stars Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike, Santi Santillan, Frank Johnson, Jordan Heading, Tyrus Hill, Larry Muyang and James Laput are also considered first round picks, with RK Ilagan, Jerrick Ahanmisi, Andrei Caracut and Ken Holmvqist also in the mix.
Marcial said such a bumper crop featuring not only immediate stars but bright prospects would be deeper than the class of ‘89, led by the likes of Benjie Paras, Renato Agustin, Nelson Asaytono, Calvin Tuadles, Ricric Marata, Zaldy Realubit, Romeo dela Rosa and Elmer Cabahug.
“Hindi kataka-taka kung hanggang fourth round may pumi-pick pa,” said Marcial.