The 2016 PBA Draft was in a class of its own, not only because it featured an outstanding crop of talent, but also for a handful of its entrants who are going to be the foundation of the national basketball team, Gilas Pilipinas.
The 25-man Gilas pool, which included a representative from each of the professional ballclubs, has begun training for the SEABA Championship 2017, which the Philippines will host from April 23 to 30. For the most part, the future of Philippine basketball looks bright, if not for a couple of injury news (Paul Lee, Art dela Cruz).
The air of optimism is largely because of how these Gilas draftees performed in the recently concluded Philippine Cup. Some rookies were given more than they can handle, while others struggled to find their footing in the big leagues. FHM tries to give an assessment of the PBA's heavily scrutinized newcomers.
14.3 PPG 7.3 RPG 1.4 SPG
After a first few seasons plagued with bad decisions, Blackwater finally did the right thing by not trading away their most promising draft pick. Belo rewarded his team with a franchise player-type numbers that saw him build a sizable lead in the race for Rookie of the Year honors against closest rival and fellow Gilas cadet Matthew Wright of Phoenix Fuel Masters. In the end, though, the D-League MVP will have the advantage of being Blackwater's primary option.
9.1 PPG 4.3 RPG 2.6 APG 1.1 SPG
The 'Bus Driver' got going in the stretch run of the Philippine Cup, more than holding his own against fellow NCAA star Scottie Thompson (Ginebra) in their semifinal matchup. At the rate he's developing, it won't take long before Jalalon earns more minutes (currently at 21.6), or even unseat a member of Star's starting backcourt.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel
6.5 PPG 3.2 RPG 20.3 MPG
Don't let those numbers fool you. After playing sparingly in the elimination round, the UST ace was the "next man up" when Joe Devance went down in the quarterfinals against the Alaska Aces. Ferrer eagerly capitalized on the opportunity, erupting for 21 points (18 in the second quarter) in Game 2 of the Finals.
GlobalPort Batang Pier
4.9 PPG 1.9 RPG 42% 3PT
It's tough to play behind two of the league's premier guards, Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle—just ask the former Blue Eagle hotshot. His current playing time, 13.4 minutes per game, is such a small sample size to measure his impact on the court, but his percentage from the three-point line is an encouraging sign.
8 PPG 4 RPG 18 MPG
The lanky big man from FEU was just gaining momentum in the pros (12 points in 12 minutes against the NLEX Road Warriors), when he suffered a knee injury midway through the conference. With his Gilas stint basically up in the air at the moment, expect Escoto to make up for lost time once he makes his return.
9.4 PPG 4.5 RPG 25.8 MPG
It may have taken a while but Pogoy has validated his place in the league and his top-heavy squad with back-to-back career games at the tail end of the tournament. TNT looks like it's slowly handing over the keys to their young players, and the ex-Tamaraw is a cinch to be one of the transition's biggest beneficiaries.
Rain or Shine Elasto Painters
5.9 PPG 1.3 RPG 11.2 MPG
Even with a crowded guard rotation, Tolomia was still able to make his presence felt with a couple of solid performances, including a Best Player of the Game outing versus Blackwater (14 pints, 2 rebounds, 2 assists). The FEU stalwart will have to grow up fast if he intends to fill the void left by Paul Lee.
Arnold Van Opstal
San Miguel Beermen
1.2 PPG 1.3 RPG 3 MPG
Unfortunately, that may be AVO's lone highlight in the entire conference, if you don't count his 'Jack Frost' hair. It's going to be a long road in the PBA for the former Green Archer, who finds himself at the end of the bench and San Miguel's big-man rotation, behind June Mar Fajardo, Gabby Espinas, and even Yancy de Ocampo.
Phoenix Fuel Masters
18.5 PPG 6.8 RPG 3.3 APG 1.3 SPG
If there's one player who can give Belo a run for his money, it would be Wright who has established himself as a vital cog in Phoenix' run-and-gun system. Give the St. Bonaventure alum a few more years to gel with his team and watch him turn into one of the league's top swingmen.
NLEX Road Warriors
1.4 PPG 7.4 MPG
This came as quite as a surprise, considering coach Yeng Guiao's knack for throwing rookies into the fire, to see what they're made of. All Gotladera could do is hope to see more court time in the upcoming tournament.
8.8 PPG 2.6 RPG 1.6 APG
The ex-Growling Tiger introduced himself in a big way with back-to-back 23-point outings last December, including a career game against TNT where he matched the output of top point guard Jayson Castro. Don't look now, but Daquioag is gradually making a strong case for a starting spot among Meralco's slew of talented guards.
Carl Bryan Cruz
5.1 PPG 3.7 RPG 14.8 MPG
Since his outstanding debut (20 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals), Cruz had seen his numbers plummet. Sharing the same position with Calvin Abueva obviously didn't help his cause for more minutes; still, the FEU forward must learn to make the most out of his limited opportunities.