2011 PBA Draft: Time to revive the third round?

The 2011 PBA Draft is scheduled to commence on August 28.

With the influx of collegiate stars and the core of the Smart-Gilas squad, the draft is said to be one of the richest drafts in recent memory. In the 2000’s, the best draft in my book goes to the 2003 Draft Class. 30 of the 40 players that were drafted played at least a game in the PBA. Five players in the first round were able to claim mythical selections while it becomes six when we check out the second round. Ten players from the class participated in the All-Star game.

For those keeping count, the ten All-Stars listed are Mike Cortez (Draft Pick #1), Romel Adducul (#2), Harvey Carey (#4), Enrico Villanueva (#7), Reynel Hugnatan (#9), Jimmy Alapag (#10), Sunday Salvacion (#11), John Ferriols (#12), Cyrus Baguio (#14), and Ronald Tubid (#16).

And then there’s the third round.

Picks 21 and higher (if there are ten teams) are often left unsigned or in the reserved list with the possibility of getting waived. However, there are a bunch of players that made it big despite the “almost” snub. We are talking about players like Celino Cruz and Aris Dimaunahan (2002), and Gec Chia (2003).   

Peter June Simon and Topex Robinson were taken in the fifth round of the 2001 PBA Draft 43rd and 44th respectively. Warren Ybanez was taken in the fourth round of the 2004 Draft.

The fourth and fifth rounds should still be put into shelf.

They need to revive the third round though.

There are a bunch of reasons why the third round needs to be revived. These suggestions were not laid in the foundations that “it would F’N rule” or “because I want to”.

The reasons behind are:

The importance of the D-League will be further prompted because draft projects will have an avenue to not just languish on their respective team’s bench and at the same time their mother ballclubs can still treat them as their property (this will promptly enable the importance of the draft rights). For example, if a player can’t make the Meralco Bolts, he’ll always have the NLEX Road Warriors to fall back into. Therefore, when one of the Bolts gets injured, they’ll just activate him from their “Team B”. Chris Timberlake, Boyet Bautista, Kelvin Gregorio, and a slew of other first round duds could have used their D-League experience wisely. Since the start of the league, the partnership had received one call up (NLEX’s Ogie Menor to its PBA Affiliate Meralco) and one demotion (Smart-Gilas Borgie Hermida to another MVP franchise, MayniladNote: After Barako Bull’s leave of absence, Hermida was acquired by Smart-Gilas).  

There is a reason why players apply for the draft – they all want to make the professional level. There are some who think that they are superstars and they’ll probably be disillusioned once they see their names not in the first round. Some however, will use the draft to gauge on whether or not they need to continue playing basketball. The success rate of snubbed players isn’t as big compared to those who were drafted. Also, again the “draft rights” rule should further be implemented because just like what the NBA is doing to their European talent, they can use too when they let these players play for the D-League, Liga Pilipinas or in the Asean Basketball League.

Josh Urbiztondo almost won Top Rookie honors in 2010 and there was a time that Hans Thiele challenged Rabeh Al-Hussaini for his (in case a random rookie scores 1,000 points) Rookie of the Year plum. If I was the PBA, I’d be embarrassed that these rookie free agents are destroying the integrity of the draft. If undrafted success stories are more reasons NOT to go for a third round, then you are mistaken. The draft must be sacred because the people picked above you are considered to be the best of their batch. Having a third round definitely eliminates the notion of the first ever undrafted rookie to win the Rookie of the Year. I think this is the most important aspect of the draft that the PBA must solve.  

I was not happy when Air21 slighted Rabeh Al-Hussaini by selecting Nonoy Baclao as the top choice. With Rabeh assured of the Top Rookie citation and Baclao nearing draft bust levels since they both transferred to San Miguel (now called Petron), the set is stage to make the draft relevant again. It should please people that teams in need of roster depth are picking high. The Powerade Tigers and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (via Air21 Express) will try to outgun each other to claim the top choice. Powerade will also have the third pick which they acquired from the Elasto Painters. 

Also, with Commissioner Chito Salud emphasizing on the need to have balance squads, expect the big squads to not have the luxury of "luring" all the talents to their already souped up franchises. 

Still, for PBA’s sake, they need to seriously exploit the D-League, do with the third round, and the league must re-make their draft rights rule. Aside from giving the fans an exciting off-season, this will also protect the players' chances on one day making the PBA. 

Game over.


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