By TITO S. TALAO
MACAU – The race is on among PBA ballclubs for the next best talent available after consensus No. 1 draft pick 6-foot-9 Junmar Fajardo.
Ahead of the Aug. 19 Rookie Draft, PBA governors headed for their annual planning session Saturday in this former Portuguese colony took stock of what their respective teams would be looking at once PBA Commissioner Chito Salud opens the floor at Robinsons Manila.
“No brainer na yon that Petron will pick Fajardo,” said a team insider. “Who they will get next will depend on who Alaska picks.”
The Aces are drafting second and assistant team manager Dickie Bachmann expressed preference for either San Sebastian dervish Calvin Abueva or 6-foot-5 Fil-Am Cliff Hodge, “depending on the import height limit that will be set.”
The height ceiling for imports for the Commissioner’s and Governors Cup will be known during the three-day confab.
“If it’s 6-foot-6, we’ll probably get an Abueva type; if it’s 6-foot-4, we might go to Hodge,” said Bachmann, who also mentioned three other rookie applicants under consideration, including former Ateneo Blue Eagle Chris Tiu.
“It will be the best available talent for us,” said the Petron insider of their No. 3 pick, the result of an earlier trade deal with Barako Bull.
With the richness of this year’s draft, the search for the next best rookie promises a minefield of talent.
“You could never go wrong,” said incoming PBA chairman Robert Non of Barangay Ginebra. “Rich harvest and draft ngayon. Dati hanggang first round lang tayo. Ngayon good ito up to 16th and 17th pick.”
Meralco, drafting fourth overall, is keeping its option open.
“We’re looking to add to the value of the team or we could leverage picks to strengthen the team,” said incoming PBA vice chairman Ramon Segismundo.
With the fifth pick, Barako Bull representative Manny Alvarez bared they are eyeing a tall player who can play the No. 1, 2 or 3” position.
“Medyo puno na kami sa frontline e,” said Alvarez.
Ginebra has two picks, No. 6 and 8, but Non remains divided between getting a point guard or a big man.
“We can also draft Chris Tiu if he’s still available,” said Non, who will take over the helm from Rain or Shine’s Mert Mondragon. “Pero siempre, depende pa rin yan kung sino ang kukunin with the first four picks ahead of us.”
Mondragon, still euphoric over the Elasto Painters’ first ever championship, appeared reluctant to introduce a new ingredient to their potent mix with the 7th pick. “Malayo pa naman kami,” he said. “Kung ano na lang ang dumating.”
BMeg governor Rene Pardo said the Llamados are giving priority to re-signing players whose contracts are expiring.
“We have eight, including Yancy de Ocampo and Rafi Reavis,” said Pardo, whose team draft 9th overall. “Coach Tim (Cone) had just concluded his exit interviews with all the players. Uupuan namin yung draft pagbalik ko.”
Talk ‘N Text, without a draft pick, will be looking for trades, according to alternate governor Patrick Gregorio.
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