PBA Rookies are the building blocks of the league’s future.
While not all of them are expected to make an impact right away, they are all picked with the idea that they would become rotation players. However, there are some transcendental talents who would become integral parts of their respective teams’ success right off the bat.
It’s fitting that the first season that a rookie must face is the Philippine Cup, where teams can’t rely on imports to beef up their rosters.
Here are some of the rookies who helped their respective teams to playoff appearances in their first conference over the past five years:
PG Kiefer Ravena
Drafted By: NLEX Road Warriors, 2017
School: Ateneo De Manila University
PH Cup Stats: 16.9 ppg 5.7 apg 3.7 rpg 2.1 spg
The second overall pick in the latest draft was as good as advertised as he’s leading NLEX in a league-best four game win streak. His all-around game and clutch performance that have been a staple in his UAAP career was surprisingly carried easily in the PBA.
SF Jeron Teng
Drafted By: Alaska Aces, 2017
School: De La Salle University
PH Cup Stats: 13.0 ppg 4.2 rpg 1.8 apg 1.1 spg
A rival of Ravena’s during their UAAP days, Teng is having a decent start to his PBA career. While he may not be leading the team in any category, Teng has been able to plug himself as an essential piece in Alaska’s playoff bid.
PG Jio Jalalon
Drafted By: Star Hotshots, 2016 (Gilas Special Draft)
School: Arellano University
PH Cup Stats: 10.8 ppg 4.5 rpg 3.8 apg 1.3 spg
Jalalon was part of the separate draft that was exclusive to the Gilas Pool members. He was a spark off the Hotshots bench and was having a tremendous season despite playing just 21.9 minutes per game. His contribution was crucial as Mark Barroca’s production dipped with the arrival of Paul Lee.
PG Matthew Wright
Drafted By: Phoenix Fuel Masters, 2016 (Gilas Special Draft)
School: St. Bonaventure (USA)
PH Cup Stats: 17.9 ppg 7.1 rpg 3.8 apg 2.2 3PM
Another product of the special draft, Wright asserted himself right at the get-go for the Fuel Masters. He helped Phoenix to a sixth-place finish in the eliminations to advance to the quarterfinals, but couldn’t pull off a win against Jalalon and the Hotshots.
PF Troy Rosario
Drafted By: Mahindra Enforcers, 2015
School: National University
PH Cup Stats: 15.6 ppg 6.7 rpg 1.7 3PM
Rosario’s start was marred by controversy, having never suited up for the team that drafted him, as he was shipped out two days later to Talk N’ Text. There, he would form a frontcourt with another highly-touted rookie as the Texters begin their first season without Jimmy Alapag, who served as the team manager following his first retirement early in the year.
C Moala Tautuaa
Drafted by: Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters, 2015
School: Chadron State (USA)
PH Cup Stats: 13.2 ppg 5.2 rpg 1.9 apg
The most coveted rookie in the 2015 draft, Tautuaa was seen as a franchise player they could build around following Alapag’s departure. He and Rosario helped TNT in reclaiming their spot in the playoffs, after failing to qualify in the Governor’s Cup, giving the Texters a renewed hope for their future.
SG Stanley Pringle
Drafted by: GlobalPort Batang Pier, 2014
School: Penn State (USA)
PH Cup Stats: 14.0 ppg 6.7 rpg 4.7 apg 1.9 spg
The first overall pick in the 2014 draft did not disappoint, but at 27 years old, he was also the oldest player selected first at the time (Christian Standhardinger was 28 years old when he was picked first last year). Pringle formed a high-scoring backcourt with Terrence Romeo as they led the team to five wins after a combined two over the previous two conferences.
C Greg Slaughter
Drafted by: Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 2013
School: Ateneo De Manila University
PH Cup Stats: 15.7 ppg 10.2 rpg 1.9 bpg 53% FG%
The top overall pick in the frontcourt-heavy 2013 draft showed right away that he was ready for the big league, averaging a double-double in his first conference. He helped the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings to an 11-3 slate in the eliminations. However, they were stopped by the Star Hotshots and their own rookie, Ian Sanggalang.
SF Calvin Abueva
Drafted By: Alaska Aces, 2012
School: San Sebastian College
PH Cup Stats: 14.6 ppg 10.2 rpg 2.1 apg 1.6 spg
With top overall pick June Mar Fajardo nursing an injury for most of the Philippine Cup, it was Abueva who took the spotlight among rookies in his draft class. He finished his collegiate career as the only player in college basketball history to lead a league in points, rebounds, and assists, so it wasn’t like Fajardo was the only gem in the 2012 draft class.
While their Philippine Cup stats did not stand out as much, some rookies eventually found their groove to become important pieces for the teams they played on. They are:
June Mar Fajardo, Cliff Hodge, Vic Manuel, and Alex Mallari in 2012
Ian Sanggalang, Terrence Romeo, Justin Melton and Raymond Almazan in 2013
Kevin Alas and Chris Banchero in 2014
Chris Newsome, Scottie Thompson, and Art Dela Cruz in 2015
Carl Bryan Cruz and Roger Pogoy in the 2016 Special Draft