FAMILIARITY with his system prompted AMA Online Education coach Mark Herrera to choose upstart playmaker Reed Baclig as the No. 1 pick overall instead of highly-touted Fil-Am forward Jamie Malonzo in the PBA D-League draft yesterday.
Pulling off a surprise in the draft proceedings at the league office in Libis, the Titans tabbed the 5-foot-7 Baclig, their homegrown player, as the top pick from a pool of 137 hopefuls.
For Herrera, it was a no-brainer.
“Kilala ko na iyong bata and alam ko ang laro niya. Nagsimula siya sa grassroots program ko and marami na rin siyang championships na dinala para sa amin,” Herrera told Malaya-Business Insight.
“Nakikita ko na puwede na siya sa big leagues kahit na siya ang pinaka-bata sa history ng D-League na na-draft,” he added of the 18-year-old guard.
Marinerong Pilipino selected the 6-foot-6 Malonzo, a former La Salle standout, with the second pick, while newly-appointed Karate Kid-Centro Escolar University tactician Jeff Napa opted to tab former University of the Philippines wingman and Gilas Pilipinas pool member Jaydee Tungcab with the third pick.
Wangs Basketball-Letran, which will carry the core of reigning NCAA champion Letran in the Aspirant’s Cup set to begin on Feb. 13, drafted Sham Bañer as the fourth and final selection in the first round.
AMA Online Education got Joshua Villamor as the first pick in the second round; the Skippers went for former La Salle guard Joshua Torralba; former University of the East forward John Apacible was drafted by the Scorpions; and the Knights chose Kenny Rogers Rocacurva with the fourth pick in the second round.
The draft lasted until the 20th round, with 41 applicants getting selected.
Aside from the Titans, Marinerong Pilipino, Karate Kid-CEU, and Wangs Basketball-Letran, other teams set to do battle in the season-opening tourney are UAAP runner-up University of Santo Tomas-Builders Warehouse, San Sebastian College, Far Eastern University, Diliman College, Technological Institute of the Philippines, Enderun Colleges, and newcomers EcoOil-La Salle and Mapua University.