NLEX coach Yeng Guiao has a word of caution for those who expect next month’s PBA Rookie Draft to go beyond two rounds due to the quality of players in the initial list.
“Conditional pa rin tingin ko d’yan,” said Guiao, adding the uncertainties surrounding some Fil-foreign applicants and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ impending move to take some players from the list should take much of the luster from the draft set March 14.
“A lot of people are saying this is a historic draft, a very deep draft,” added Guiao.
“But my feeling is, ang assessment ko d’yan, if the quality Fil-Ams are not able to complete their requirements, it’s going to be a one-round draft. Kung hindi makakumpleto iyong mga iyon, this is going to be a one-round draft.”
In all, 97 players submitted their draft applications, but that includes 16 of the 31 Fil-foreign applicants who have yet to secure their confirmation from the Department of Justice and Bureau of Immigration.
The PBA has given them until March 5 to submit the required documents.
“Kaya ba nilang mahabol ang deadline na iyon?” posed Guiao.
“Pag hindi nakapasok iyung 16 na iyon, kung 16 man iyon, this is going to be a one-round draft,” Guiao stressed.
SBP President Al Panlilio earlier said “five to six players” from the list would go through a special draft for inclusion in the national pool. That means they would be barred from suiting up for the pro teams which drafted them unless released by the country’s governing body in the sport.
Like NorthPort, which picks at second and 11th overall, NLEX also has two first round picks at Nos. 3 and 4.
Guiao is hoping to fill up the remaining slots in his roster through those picks, but the players he wants may not be on the final list of eligible applicants, specifically the Fil-foreigners.
“Actually, we will rely first on the final lineup,” said Guiao. “Naghihintay kami ng final list, kung sino mag-ka-qualify.”
Word from the PBA has it that Joshua Munzon and Jamie Malonzo have completed their requirements along with fellow Fil-Ams Troy Rike, Frank Johnson and James Laput.
NLEX has an ongoing contest, which offers attractive gadgets to those who will correctly guess the Road Warriors’ first round picks, the main reason why Guiao would not entirely divulge his own wishlist.
At the moment, Guiao’s sights are set on some of those whose eligibility remains in question. “Kung mga (Jeremiah) Gray iyan, ‘yung mga (Brandon) Ganuelas-Rosser, (Jason) Brickman,” he said. “‘Yun yata ang mga delikado, samantalang mga quality iyon.”