The PBA Draft has always been a milestone moment for both the teams and emerging cagers, and despite the weaker pool compared to recent years, there were still many quality players selected in this year’s iteration, especially at the top.
There were little surprises within the first four selections. As expected, the Blackwater Bossings selected Alab Pilipinas and Gilas 3×3 big Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser with the first overall pick. It was an easy selection for Blackwater. The explosive Rosser should provide offense and versatility on defense for the Blackwater team that has needed an inside presence to complement their perimeter talent.
Rosser’s Alab counterpart Jeremiah Gray went next as the second overall pick by Terrafirma Dyip. While he won’t be suiting up anytime soon as he recovers from an ACL injury, the athletic, 6’5” wing has proven his versatile scoring prowess in NCAA Division II school Dominican University of California, and most recently, the TNT 3×3 side.
The Converge Fiber Xers then made their inaugural PBA draft selections with the uber-efficient Jeo Ambohot and double-double machine Justin Arana, who were picked third and fourth, respectively. Both bigs should help fortify the Converge side in much need of frontcourt talent.
The rest of the first two rounds were headlined by UAAP talents making their way to the professional ranks. The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters picked up 3-and-D wing Gian Mamuyac at fifth and the burly Shaun Ildefonso at ninth, joining their former Ateneo teammates Mike Nieto, Anton Asistio, and Vince Tolentino. The remaining former Blue Eagle left on the board, the sweet-shooting Tyler Tio, was picked 14th by Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters.
A pair of former DLSU forwards were surprise selections in the first round, with NLEX taking Tyrus Hill seventh and Blackwater taking Mark Dyke at 11th. Another Taft alum, lefty scoring wing Kurt Lojera, was also picked by Blackwater with the ninth pick, while La Salle’s combo guard Encho Serrano made a surprise slide to the second round, selected by Phoenix with the 19th overall pick.
Another notable UAAP selection was Javi Gomez de Liano, who was picked with the eighth pick by Ginebra. The former UP and B.League wing, alongside Arana, Mamuyac, and Ildefonso, were also pre-selected by Gilas Coach Chot Reyes before the draft to be on deck for the National Team. But unlike the special Gilas selections in 2020 and 2021, the rights for these four players will be with their mother PBA team immediately.
Rounding up the former UAAP names selected in the first two rounds were Adamson big Keith Zaldivar picked 12th overall by the Magnolia Hotshots, FEU guard RJ Ramirez at 18th by Rain or Shine, and NU point guard Enzo Joson at 23rd by Phoenix. It will be an uphill battle for both Ramirez and Joson, since both guards will have to compete for a slot in crowded backcourts.
Overall, it was a typical PBA draft— expected names headlined the top with surprise selections coloring the middle of the draft. While there won’t be many surefire stars to emerge from this year’s pool, many of the players selected should carve out lengthy careers as role players and glue guys for winning teams.