Over half of the rookie applicants who were picked in last month’s draft are on opening day rosters of the PBA Houston Filipino Restaurant Cup which begins at the Houston Filipino Restaurant Arena in Bulacan today.
There were 41 chosen in the draft and 21 are now in lineups with two in the injured reserve list – NLEX’ Kyles Lao and Columbian’s Cyrus Tabi. The only freshman who wasn’t chosen last month is NorthPort’s 6-4 Jom Sollano, Rain Or Shine’s second round pick in 2017.
Columbian has the most rookies with C. J. Perez, J. P. Calvo, Jeepy Faundo and Tabi. Curiously, Columbian’s third round pick Teytey Teodoro found his way to the Ginebra lineup. No other rookie is listed in the Ginebra cast. Ginebra had only one pick in the draft, Matt Salem, and he’s not in the lineup. Two teams enlisted three rookies each – Blackwater with Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter and Diego Dario and NLEX with Paul Varilla, Kris Porter and Lao.
All first round picks are in rosters except Bobby Ray Parks who was allowed by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial to play out his ABL contract before joining Blackwater. The 12 first round picks and their teams are: Perez and Calvo of Columbian, Parks, Desiderio and Tratter of Blackwater, Robert Bolick of NorthPort, Trevis Jackson of Meralco, Javee Mocon and JJay Alejandro of Rain Or Shine, Jesper Ayaay of Alaska, Mike Calisaan of Magnolia and Jorey Napoles of Phoenix.
So far, 14 veterans have switched team loyalties. Moving places were Gelo Alolino and Joseph Eriobu from Phoenix to Blackwater, Keith Agovida from San Miguel Beer to Columbian, Gabby Espinas from San Miguel Beer to Meralco, Poy Erram from Blackwater to NLEX, Alex Mallari and Dave Marcelo from NLEX to Phoenix, Terrence Romeo from TNT to San Miguel Beer, Paul Zamar from Blackwater to San Miguel Beer, Ronald Tubid from Columbian to San Miguel Beer, Brian Heruela from San Miguel Beer to TNT, Michael Miranda from NLEX to TNT, David Semerad from San Miguel Beer to TNT and Kris Rosales from TNT to Rain Or Shine.
Struck out from opening day rosters were Chris Tiu (retired), Jett Manuel (retired), Carlo Lastimosa, Dylan Ababou, Jason Ballesteros, Ken Bono, Mac Baracael, Simon Atkins, Eman Monfort, Alex Nuyles, Jeric Teng, Rabeh Al Hussaini, Jeric Fortuna, Marlon Magat, Ronald Pascual and Karl Dehesa. Jay Washington isn’t in Rain Or Shine’s cast but coach Caloy Garcia said he’s on the reserved list.
The oldest player is still NLEX’ Asi Taulava, 45, and the youngest is Calvo, 21. Desiderio is also 21 but turns 22 on Feb. 2 and is seven months older than Calvo. Two other seniors are Magnolia’s Rafi Reavis, 41 and Meralco’s Reynel Hugnatan, 40.
Each team is retaining its head coach from the previous conference although a few bolstered the assistants’ ranks. Rain Or Shine designated former Kia coach Chris Gavina as lead assistant while TNT took in Sandy Arrespacochaga and Yuri Escueta. Jimmy Alapag joined a loaded San Miguel staff whose other assistants are Peter Martin, Boycie Zamar, Jorge Gallent, Biboy Ravanes, Ato Agustin and Dayong Mendoza. Another team with seven assistant coaches is Magnolia with Jason Webb, Johnny Abarrientos, Mon Jose, Tony Boy Espinosa, Juno Sauler, Itoy Esguerra and Paul Sorongon. NorthPort has the leanest staff with only assistants Rensy Bajar and Jeff Napa backstopping Pido Jarencio.
In today’s 44th season inaugurals, the PBA will announce the recipients of the Leo Awards. The awards will be for MVP, Rookie of the Year, Sportsmanship, Most Improved Player, First and Second Mythical Teams and All-Defensive Team. The MVP candidates are JuneMar Fajardo, Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee and Japeth Aguilar while the Rookie nominees are Jason Perkins, Jeron Teng, Toto Jose, Robbie Herndon and Rey Nambatac. In contention for the Sportsmanship award are Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, Jvee Casio, Hugnatan, Gabe Norwood and James Yap. Thompson, Rome de la Rosa and Erram are the leading candidates for Most Improved Player.
For the Mythical Teams, the first five and second five will come from the top 20 in statistical points which are computed in this manner – every point, rebound, assist, steal and block is plus-statistical point, every turnover minus-one, flagrant/technical foul minus–five, ejection minus-15, every game won plus-10 and every game won in Finals plus-15. “We average SPs now unlike before when SPs were only totals so a player with a team that often makes it to the Finals is almost always a candidate for the Mythical Teams,” said PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon. The All-Defense team will be made up of two guards and three frontliners, forwards and/or centers.
Candidates for the Mythical Teams are (guards) Alex Cabagnot, Thompson, Jayson Castro, Chris Newsome, Chris Banchero, L. A. Tenorio and Mark Barroca and (forward-centers) Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, Erram, Ian Sangalang, Matthew Wright, Vic Manuel, R. R. Pogoy and Troy Rosario. For the All-Defensive Team, the top bets are Barroca, De la Rosa, Erram, Reavis and Norwood.
The inaugural program will include a parade of teams with muses who are Jasmine Alkhaldi and Myla Pablo of Blackwater, Kelley Day of Columbian, Eva Patalinjug of Meralco, Anie Uson of Rain Or Shine, Kylie Verzosa of San Miguel Beer, Yam Concepcion of Phoenix, Aya Fernandez of NorthPort, Alyssa Valdez of NLEX, Klea Pineda of Alaska, Pia Wurtzbach of Ginebra, Sam Pinto of TNT and Sharon Cuneta of Magnolia. It’s possible some teams will make late changes to the cast of muses.
In the climax of the opening program, Ginebra will battle TNT. It’ll be the first game where the PBA is applying new rules, including goaltending as a reviewable call and a traveling protocol like the NBA and FIBA. Ginebra coach Tim Cone will take on TNT’s active consultant Mark Dickel and head coach Bong Ravena. Teodoro is the only newcomer in Ginebra’s cast with Julian Sargent still in the reserve list as Cone will rely on his tested veterans Tenorio, Sol Mercado, Thompson, Greg Slaughter, Aguilar, Jeff Chan, Joe DeVance, Art de la Cruz and Jervy Cruz. TNT is touted to be more physical and tougher in Dickel’s defensive system with the Semerad twins finally playing together for the first time in the PBA, Castro, Pogoy, Jericho Cruz and new recruits Heruela and Miranda. It’s a can’t-miss event at the Houston Filipino Restaurant Arena today.