Got Lucky (2012 PBA Rookie of the Year Predictions)

This early, it’s easy to see who’ll have the most playing time, who’ll be the best fit, and who’ll likely stand out from the rest of the pack in the aftermath of the recently-concluded 2011 PBA Draft.

However, one would also wonder on the other variables like win-loss records, injuries, and coaching decisions. 

I know this article is a bit early and one would wonder on how much "me" time I have as we speak but with the turnout of the draft people can speculate on who scored the best teams and who'll likely sulk as a practice player. 

Unlike in my previous works, I’m going to this ascending to descending. Fact is, we all know all the obvious choices but we have yet to disseminate the other ones.

Here is my Top 10.

Game starts now.

Like I said, Rain or Shine needs a marquee point guard. The last time Yeng Guiao had an offensive-minded quarterback in his turf when he still had Jimwell Torion and Willie Miller in his roster. Also, for the longest time now, Lee has been injury-free. This is one thing Lee has that JV Casio lacks. The only possible drawback in the Yeng-Lee partnership is when Yeng Guiao experiments or gets pissed at Lee and benches him. Lee will have that aura that he’ll ballhog in which Yeng Guiao will eventually nip. Remember the draft tomfoolery he did to Rabeh Al-Hussaini?

I am one of the voices that wanted Casio to be the first pick overall. That doesn’t mean though that he doesn’t have flaws. It’s a given that he will spearhead Powerade’s campaign alongside fellow Gilas alum Marcio Lassiter and scoring machine Gary David. However, David expressed his intentions to play for Smart-Gilas even if he’s in the PBA right now. Alongside the wear and tear his body suffered from the international tilts and the Tigers’ potential win-loss records, JV Casio will not win the Top Rookie honors if he can’t avert these factors.

There is a reason why Chris Lutz got the nod for Petron instead of Lassiter. It’s because with Arwind Santos and Jay Washington on their roster, Petron simply has no more room for another all-around forward. What’s bad for Petron is great for the Tigers who had their sights on Mac Baracael before the incident. The only downside for “Lass” is his size which can bring mismatches for the Tigers if they want to play Casio, Gary David, him, and Sean Anthony (aka their cat-quick lineup).

Like I said in my previous listings, imagine Cyrus Baguio forming an explosive shooting and slashing unit with Marnel Baracael. The loss of Joe Devance and Reynel Hugnatan was solved because this former FEU Tamaraw can work his way on offense and can also play combo forward. Baracael should find a slight minutes snag since Tim Cone isn’t really that giddy in using his rookies (Mike Burtscher is understandable but Elmer Espiritu???) but maybe he can turn a believer out of the long-time Aces coach.

Shocked? I hope you are because this is what I’m aiming. Sison is ranked this high in my list because my expectations on the Clickers are so low. If they decide to waste Mark Barroca to B-Meg, then Shopinas will be talent-starved even further. But for some like Sison, this is an opportunity. I am still amused how people discount his talents because with the way the Shopinas’ frontline is shaping up, Sison maybe the only credible big man on their roster. Unless the Clickers find a better big man or Sison ends up getting traded to a loaded team midseason, he will enjoy the benefits of playing in a talent-lacking squad. If you don’t believe me, check out the rookie years of Hans Thiele (before getting traded) and Josh Urbiztondo.

If the Blaze Boosters play him as a starter then I’m going to say sorry to every Chris Lutz fan in the nation. While I am a fan of him as well, I think Ato Agustin remains undecided on how he’ll use Lutz. A formidable lineup of Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Jay Washington, Arwind Santos, and Alex Cabagnot is in the works but for the SG spot, it’s a tossup between him and former Smart-Gilas shooter Dondon Hontiveros. He’ll have youth on his side but in terms of familiarity to his teammates and in Agustin’s system, the Cebuano Hotshot takes the spot.

I would have placed Barroca ahead of Lassiter if the B-Meg trade didn’t (or wouldn’t as of this writing) pushed through. Barroca would create the Clickers for his liking and he’ll have a lot of minutes playing their PG spot. This is a different case when it comes to the Llamados though. Even Rico Maierhofer, during his Rookie of the Year season, barely played two full quarters because of the talent in B-Meg. Sure, Jorge Gallent was Barroca’s coach in the amateurs but do you think Roger Yap, Josh Urbiztondo, and Jonas Villanueva are ready to play a little under 12 minutes a game?

The Energy should savor having Allein Maliksi and Ababou in their squad. With that said I am still not sold with Maliksi going over Ababou even if I’m an avid UST supporter. One of the flaws of the first D-League season was that it never really featured the superstars that haven’t turned pro. Meanwhile, Ababou has been pissed as hell for getting stuck in benchwarming after years of blood, sweat, and tears for Smart-Gilas. Sure Maliksi performed brilliantly under the Cebuana Lhuillier system but there is a reason why Ababou part of the original shortlist that made up the current Smart-Gilas core. I am not instigating a rivalry of some sort but... 

(cont’d from Ababou) ... Maybe I’m going to contradict or kind of retract my Ababou statement but here’s the thing: while I’m comparing Ababou’s Gilas’ experience as Crispa Redmanizers to Maliksi’s D-League experience as... Pop Cola Panthers, Maliksi did something great to get himself where he is now. Maliksi fought for recognition after a forgettable UAAP stint to become the first-ever D-League MVP. Now amongst the two, who will claim the starting SG/SF spot that Dondon Hontiveros abdicated and Sunday Salvacion eager in grabbing it? I expect both guys to at least claim 15 minutes of playing time but as the season progress, only one of them will claim the rightful claim to that position.

Here are the key facts. Asi Taulava, in case you haven’t noticed, is old. Factor in that he is a sure PBA Hall of Famer that has nothing more to prove and Asi would rather play for the national team rather than another “boring” PBA tour of duty. Enter J-Ball, clearly the most dominant defensive player in the draft. Offensively, Ballesteros is a project but everything else in his arsenal is screaming noteworthiness. Unlike Nonoy Baclao, his bulk will give him a dominating presence inside the shaded area. More importantly, Ballesteros’ game is oozing with potential.

With the ten proclaimed, I am not saying that the others will turn out into duds. I’m just saying opportunity-wise, these ten will have better ways in making a name this early in their careers. Alaska has souped up their backcourt by drafting the enigmatic Julius Pasculado and the PBA-ready Eric Salamat as well as banger Ariel Mepana but will Tim Cone give them the minutes to blossom. Pasculado may surprise everyone if this was any other team but people will riot if he excels under Tim Cone's super sacred triangle system. Reil Cervantes looks good enough to score playing time but can James Martinez get more recognition other than how his face make tweeners giggle. Ken Acibar and Paul Sorongon were drafted but can they stick with the Energy? Is Talk N Text going to give Pamboy Raymundo playing time to excel?

This list can’t be credible at this point but I’m willing to bet that the ten I predicted are solid enough to garner high expectations. 

By the way, here are the stats of the Smart-Gilas players when they played as guests in the 2011 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

14.2PPG – 3.4RPG – 5.3APG – 13 GAMES (32.2MPG)

13.5PPG – 5.2RPG – 3.1APG – 1.2SPG – 13 GAMES (38MPG)

9.4PPG – 2.6RPG – 1.7APG – 11 GAMES (22MPG)

8.2PPG – 1.8RPG – 2.7APG – 13 GAMES (17.2MPG)

6.7PPG – 2.5RPG – 1.7APG – 13 GAMES (23.4MPG)

2.3PPG – 1.0RPG – 9 GAMES (7MPG)

0.0PPG – 1.3RPG – 0.3BPG – 4 GAMES (3MPG)

Game over!


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