Top pick: Munzon or Malonzo?

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    WILL Terrafirma go for Joshua Munzon or Jamie Malonzo? Who are the players that Gilas Pilipinas will pick?

    Those are just some of burning questions that will be answered on March 14 when the PBA holds its annual regular and special Gilas Draft.

    A record 97 players, including 31 Fil-foreigners, also a league-high, have applied for the proceedings likely to be held virtually due to the restrictions of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

    The previous highest number of draft applicants in pro league history was 91 in the 2014 batch led by Stanley Pringle.

    Aside from Munzon and Malonzo, both Fil-Ams, the likes of Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike, Leonard Santillan, RK Ilagan, Franky Johnson, Jerrick Ahanmisi, Ben Adamos, James Laput, Jun Manzo, Larry Muyang, and Andre Paras are also expected to be picked in the first round.

    Reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana, Ateneo big man William Navarro, and former University of the Philippines wingman Jaydee Tungcab have also applied for the draft and are expected to be tabbed in the special Gilas draft since they are members of the national team training pool.

    In 2019, five amateur standouts led by Isaac Go (Terrafirma), Rey Suerte (Blackwater), Matt Nieto (NLEX), Allyn Bulanadi (Alaska), and Mike Nieto (Rain or Shine) were selected in the special draft. They have yet to play for the teams that selected them.

    The five players were members of the training pool in the first two windows of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.

    Jason Brickman, Mikey Williams, Jeremiah Gray, and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser are among the Fil-foreign hopefuls who submitted their requirements, although their status remains hanging in the air.

    Fil-foreign players will have to secure a Department of Justice affirmation and Bureau of Immigration certification that will prove their citizenship.

    The final list of draft-eligible applicants will be released on March 9.

    The Dyip own the top pick overall anew, followed by NorthPort, the Elite, the Road Warriors, and the Elasto Painters in the top five.

    Blackwater’s No. 3 selection will go to NLEX as part of the complicated three-team trade that sent JP Erram from the Road Warriors to TNT in February last year.