The most loaded draft classes in PBA history

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This season’s PBA rookie draft was loaded in the early rounds as it featured marquee names like CJ Perez, Ray Parks, Robert Bolick, and Paul Desiderio.

There have been seasons in the PBA when the talent pool of newcomers was so deep that teams who cornered some of these fresh talents immediately upgraded their teams. FOX Sports Philippines takes a look at some of these batches.

1988 Draft Class

Purefoods Hotdogs joined the league and absorbed some of the players of the recently disbanded Tanduay franchise. After naming Ramon Fernandez as its playing coach, Purefoods was allowed to directly sign national team starters Jojo Lastimosa, Jerry Codiñera, and Glen Capacio. The most celebrated amateur player that time, Alvin Patrimonio, joined the team in the 2nd conference.

In the draft, center Jack Tanuan, part of the Philippine team that bagged the bronze in the 1986 Asian Games, was selected first over-all by Purefoods. Drafted 2nd by Shell Helix was another national team member, Ronnie Magsanoc. For the 3rd pick, Alaska went with 6’7 Dong Polistico who would become the tallest player in the league, while Great Taste chose another member of the 1986 national team, Eric Altamirano, as the 4th draftee.

Lastimosa won Rookie of the Year honors as he along with Codiñera made the Mythical 2nd Team. Patrimonio, Lastimosa, Magsanoc, and Codiñera would eventually be named to the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players list. Many time All-Defensive Team member Capacio, Tanuan, Polistico, and Altamirano all had solid pro careers.

1989 Draft Class

One way to gauge the depth of the rookie draft is to look at who were picked in the second round. In 1989, the 2nd round picks were Dindo Pumaren of Purefoods, Boy Cabahug and Ricardo Marata of Alaska, former NCC player Peter Aguilar of Añejo Rhum, and 1992 MVP Ato Agustin of San Miguel.

The top draft pick was Formula Shell’s Benjie Paras who would make history that year by winning both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Paras averaged 25.8 points, 13 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks that season. Three of his RP squad teammates were selected after him, Nelson Asaytono of Purefoods, Zaldy Realubit of Presto, and Bong Alvarez of Alaska. Alvarez also had an impressive rookie season as he normed 23.4 points and 8.1 boards per game. He made the Mythical 2nd Team.

The other first round picks that season also had good runs in the PBA. These were Romeo Dela Rosa of Añejo (he would eventually be traded to Shell for Rey Cuenco) and Bobby Jose of San Miguel.

1993 Draft Class

That year’s rookie pool featured a strong first round and some steals in the succeeding rounds. Sta.Lucia, the newest team in the league who acquired the Great Taste/Presto franchise, landed its coveted big man whom they envisioned to build its foundation on, Zandro Limpot. Limpot was named Rookie of the Year and he also made the All-Defensive Team. The 2nd over-all pick was Vic Pablo who could not agree to terms with Ginebra, so he was shipped in a trade to Pepsi for Manny Victorino. In a draft pool packed with talented point guards, Alaska selected the best playmaker available, Johnny Abbarientos.

The other first round picks were Dwight Lago and Benny Cheng of Coney Island/Purefoods, John Cardel and Dickie Bachman of Alaska, and Boyet Fernandez of Swift Mighty Meaties. Of the eight first round selections, four came from the Dela Salle Green Archers program.

The best player to come out of the later rounds would be Olsen Racela who was picked by Coney Island where he would serve mostly as a back-up before eventually blossoming into one of the league’s premier point guards. Coney Island also selected Freddie Abuda in the 2nd round. Other notable names to emerge would be Sta.Lucia’s picks Mike Mustre and Max Delantes and Shell’s Allan Garrido,

1999 Draft Class

The year 1999 was marked by the comeback of Tanduay in the PBA and the entry of Filipino-foreign players who would help take the league to new heights. We will not include in this article players whose citizenship were questionable.

Similar to Purefoods in 1988, Tanduay was allowed to bring in some of their top players from the PBL. Three of these were big men Eric Menk, Mark Telan, and Chris Cantonjos. The league also allowed each team to directly hire Filipino players with foreign lineage. Thus, basketball fans were introduced to Asi Taulava of Mobiline, Danny Seigle of San Miguel, Tony Dela Cruz of Shell, and Jon Ordonio of Pop Cola.

From the rookie draft, the players who were selected in the 1st round included Bryan Gahol of Mobiline, Richard Yee of Purefoods, and Don Allado of Alaska. Gerald Francisco of Sta.Lucia and Donbel Belano of Pop Cola were picked in the 3rd round.

Seigle was named Rookie of the Year and was also part of the Mythical 1st Team. Menk made the Mythical 2nd Team and the All-Defensive Team.

2000 Draft Class

Red Bull joined the league in 2000 and it brought with it the core of its PBL team. These were Kerby Raymundo, Junthy Valenzuela, Lordy Tugade, Jimwell Torion, and Bernard Tanpua. The team also tabbed Mick Pennisi as its direct Fil-foreign hire.

This also marked the year the PBA allowed teams to directly sign players from its rival league, the MBA. The direct hires were Jayjay Helterbrand of Barangay Ginebra, Dondon Hontiveros of Tanduay, Dorian Peña of San Miguel, and Rob Wainright of Sta.Lucia.

From the draft, Paolo Mendoza was selected first over-all by Sta.Lucia. Other players who were undrafted but signed by PBA teams were Alex Crisano of Ginebra, Rudy Hatfield of Tanduay, Wynne Arboleda of Pop Cola, Chris Tan of Sta.Lucia, and Don Camaso and Gherome Ejercito of Mobiline.

Helterbrand would eventually win the MVP award in 2009. Hontiveros, Hatfield, and Pennisi made the 2002 Philippine National Team that suffered a heartbreaking defeat to South Korea in the semifinals of the Asian Games.

2003 Draft Class

The first round of the 2003 PBA draft saw an impressive group of rookies selected from 1 to 10. The top pick over-all was Mike Cortez of Alaska. He was followed by Rommel Adducul of Barangay Ginebra, Eddie Laure of Shell, Harvey Carey of Talk ’N Text, Brandon Cablay of Alaska, Billy Mamaril of Purefoods, Enrico Villanueva of Red Bull, Marlon Legaspi of San Miguel, Reynel Hugnatan of Coca-Cola, and the last pick of the first round, Jimmy Alapag of Talk ’N Text.

Even the 2nd round of the draft revealed some outstanding players like Sunday Salvacion of Barangay Ginebra, John Ferriols of FedEx Express, Cyrus Baguio of Red Bull, Eugene Tejada of Sta.Lucia, and Ronald Tubid of Shell. In the 3rd round, Ginebra was still able to select Rob Johnson while Coca-Cola cornered the hero of the 2002 Ateneo Blue Eagles champion team, Gec Chia.

Alapag, the 2011 PBA MVP, was the 2003 Rookie of the Year and he also made the Mythical 1st Team. Alapag’s TnT teammate, Carey, was named to the Mythical 2nd Team.

2012 Draft Class

‘The Kraken’ made his debut in the league in 2010. Junemar Fajardo was the top pick of Petron Blaze after he spent a season with its team in the Asean Basketball League. The 4-time PBA MVP was followed by Calvin Abueva of Alaska. The Beast won the Rookie of the Year award over the Kraken and he made the Mythical 1st Team. Fajardo made the Mythical 2nd Team.

Petron also had the 3rd pick in the draft which it used to select Alex Mallari. Other notable first round draftees were Chris Tiu of Rain or Shine, his 2011 SEA Games teammate Cliff Hodge of Meralco, and former Gilas 1 member Aldrech Ramos of Barako Bull. ‘The Muscle Man’ Vic Manuel was selected 9th over-all by GlobalPort from a trade with the B-Meg Llamados.

In the 2nd round, big men Kelly Nabong was chosen by Rain or Shine but was traded to Meralco. Jewel Ponferada joined B-Meg, Dave Marcelo was picked by Barako Bull, and Yousef Taha was signed by Air 21 Express. Eman Monfort was also selected in the 2nd round by Barako Bull. It is worth noting that Paul Samar was part of the 2012 draft when he was picked in the 4th round by Barangay Ginebra.
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