Redrafting the PBA Rookie Class of 2008

Special Olympics athlete Matthew Millett of Team USA with the 3/4 court buzzer beater!

Ten years into the future, the 2008 PBA Draft has produced marquee names among the league’s best. There are also players who had serviceable careers before bidding farewell.

On that August 31 afternoon at the Market Market Activity Area in Taguig City, Gabe Norwood was selected first overall by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters while Jared Dillinger and Jayson Castro both went to Talk N’ Text to round up the first three selections. Meanwhile, Christian Cabatu of St. Benilde went to Sta. Lucia with the 19th and last pick.

Now, we will revise how the first round of the draft based on how their careers unfolded and how they would fit the team’s roster.

10) Sta. Lucia Realtors – Rob Reyes
Kelvin Gregorio was the original selection but he was out of the league by 2010. Meanwhile, Reyes embraced the dirty work for six PBA teams before retiring in 2016. He would have beefed up the Realtors front court for Gregorio is more of a stretch four who is more comfortable playing in the perimeter.

9) Red Bull Barako – Larry Rodriguez
Coach Yeng Guiao thrives on finding unheralded players who can contribute when given playing time. Thus, there are no changes here as the bruising Rodriguez from PMI Colleges perfectly fits Guiao’s preference. The 6’ 5” power forward was a reliable reserve for five teams (Red Bull/Barako Bull, Coca-Cola, Rain or Shine, Blackwater, Talk N’ Text) over a nine-season career. He will give size to the San Juan Knights in the upcoming season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.

8) San Miguel Beermen – Mark Yee
Bonbon Custodio was San Miguel’s original selection but he couldn’t crack a deep back court rotation featuring Dondon Hontiveros, Jonas Villanueva, Chris Calaguio, and Lordy Tugade. He did stay with the franchise until 2010, winning one title. Instead, the Beermen could have taken a flyer on the undrafted Yee who is a hard-nosed competitor that can take some defensive pressure of Dorian Peña, Danny Ildefonso, and Jay Washington.

Before his recent release from the Columbian Dyip, Yee proved that he doesn’t need a lot of minutes to contribute. Even though he played an average of 15.2 minutes in 11 games played during the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup, he was still averaging 5.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

7) Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants – Beau Belga
Purefoods did draft Belga in 2008 but was traded to the Burger King Whoppers. Perhaps they should have kept the former PCU Dolphin whose bulky frame enhances the muscle of their big guy rotation. With Rommel Adducul diagnosed with throat cancer and Marc Pingris being traded to San Miguel, he would have been a nice complement to Enrico Villanueva and Kerby Raymundo. Despite his built, he has nimble feet that could have created pick-and-roll wonders with guards Roger Yap, James Yap, and Peter June Simon.

6) Burger King Whoppers – Mark Borboran
If the Belga trade did not happen, the Whoppers would only have JR Quiñahan and Carlo Sharma as legitimate big men. Thus, they would need someone who can draw his defender out of the shaded area to aid the two centers. The team did make the right call with Borboran who is an outside threat that can also scrap for baskets inside by using his quickness. The former UE Red Warrior can also give Arwind Santos a few minutes of rest. However, the pride of Malinao, Albay was traded to the Alaska Aces.

5) Alaska Aces – Jared Dillinger
The draft day trade for Borboran wouldn’t happen if the Aces got Jared Dillinger instead. The University of Hawaii standout can fill in the same role and has the athleticism to cover guards and forwards. The left-handed swingman is also a terrific passer who can knock down the open jumper or create plays for teammates. Having a line-up of LA Tenorio at point guard, Willie Miller at shooting guard, and Dillinger at the three could have created problems for opponents due to their versatility and scoring threat.

4) Talk N’ Text Phone Pals (acquired from San Miguel via Jay Washington trade) – Solomon Mercado
Jimmy Alapag was still at the peak of his career but it would be nice to draft his back-up. Enter Sol Mercado. As the Mighty Mouse catches his breath on the bench, there won’t be a drop in offensive production for the Sol Train has proven that he can rack up the points. He scored 29 points in his PBA debut for Rain or Shine which is second-highest in PBA history after Asi Taulava’s 32. When seeing action at the same time, Alapag and Mercado can utilize their speed to blow past defenders and outside sniping to free up lanes for the front court.

3) Talk N’ Text Phone Pals – Jeff Chan
Having more scoring options is a good thing. That is what the Phone Pals could have gotten by drafting the former FEU Tamaraw. A dead shot from long range, Chan was originally drafted 17th overall by Barako Bull. After two season, he played for Rain or Shine where he became one of the best shooters in the league. His best year was in 2012 when he became part of the Mythical Second Team while named Most Improved Player. He also won Finals MVP honors during the 2012 Governor’s Cup. The Negros Occidental native could have achieved this with Alapag or Mercado feeding him off screens to get great looks at the basket.

2) Talk N’ Text Phone Pals – Gabe Norwood
Rarely do we see players who can dominate the game on the defensive end. Hands down, Gabe Norwood is one of them. He can give you occasional jumpers and put-backs but his impact is best felt when he gives an All-Star a terrible night using his long arms and impeccable timing. Norwood was drafted first overall but if he landed with the Phone Pals, they will have a terrific athlete who can match athletic big men step by step and inch for inch. That’s something that the likes of Ali Peek, Yancy De Ocampo, and Harvey Carey will struggle to provide.

1) Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – Jayson Castro
You can’t fault Rain or Shine for selecting Norwood. Up to now, he is still a menacing defensive cager and his number is still being called to join the national team. But just imagine if they took a flyer on Castro. They will be set at the point guard position for the next decade and Joe Devance could have stayed longer. Plus, you can acquire free agents or players that will fit his skill set.

The young franchise would have painted a defensive identity as well with him teaming up with Jireh Ibanes. However, the one-time PBA scoring champion keeps Talk N’ Text legitimate contenders ten years into his career. With Castro eventually winning six titles, two Finals MVPs, four Best Player of the Conference awards, and seven Mythical Team selections, perhaps the Elasto Painters are still scratching their heads over what might have been.


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