By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE number of hopefuls in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 46 rookie draft narrowed after a number of Filipino-foreign applicants failed to complete their requirements, including potential first-round picks.
Following the lapse of the deadline set by the PBA for Fil-foreigners to submit all pertinent documents to make them eligible last Friday, the league moved to finalize the list for the March 14 draft proceedings.
From a record 97 applicants, the number of those cleared to be picked slid to 86.
Seven Filipino-foreigners were declared ineligible after failing to submit their Department of Justice Recognition and Bureau of Immigration Affirmation papers on the final day of submission on March 5.
These were Jason Brickman, Taylor Statham, Jeremiah Gray, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Tyrus Hill, John Paul Gulfo, and Christopher Cancio, most of whom were projected to be first-round picks in this year’s draft.
JJ Espanola, John Paul Zarco, Ezra Ocampo, and Neiloween De Jesus withdrew from the draft as well.
Mr. Brickman, 29, who played for the Alab Pilipinas squad in the ASEAN Basketball League, was projected to be a top-five pick for his steady floor leadership and high basketball IQ.
Many pundits and observers considered him as a possible “game changer” so much so teams were keenly eyeing him.
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, for one, did not hide its intention to pick the 5-foot-10 point guard at number five if he was still available.
Team officials are now forced to study their other options with Mr. Brickman no longer part of the list.
Mr. Statham, meanwhile, is an all-around player who made a name for himself in the 3×3 scene both here and abroad. He, too, played in various 5-on-5 leagues.
At 6’6″ and playing the guard position, he was expected to give any team that drafts him a boost.
He traces his roots to a Filipino grandmother from Iloilo.
Mr. Gray, for his part, also played for Alab in the ABL and at 6’6″ also has the height and athleticism to be a handful at the backcourt.
He suited up as well for the Mighty Sports team that won the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.
Mr. Ganuelas-Rosser, 26, brother of Terrafirma player Matt, meanwhile, is a 6-foot-7 banger who last played for Alab.
Brother Matt lamented Brandon not being able to join this year’s draft and suggested that maybe the league should revisit its policy on Fil-foreigners to make it “relevant” with the times.
Others who at the last minute completed their documents were Andre Paras, son of PBA legend Benjie and who is also an actor; Alec Stockton and Jerrick Ahanmisi, who both played in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
Among those who made the final list of draft hopefuls are Joshua Munzon, Jamie Malonzo, Alvin Pasaol, Santi Santillan, Calvin Oftana, Ben Adamos, Anton Asistio, James Laput, Larry Muyang, Brian Enriquez, Andrei Caracut, Troy Rike, and Joshua Torralba.
Picking first in the draft is Terrafirma followed by Northport. NLEX picks at three and four while Rain or Shine and Alaska go fifth and sixth, respectively. Phoenix, Terrafirma, Meralco, Magnolia, NorthPort, and Ginebra close out the first round in that order.
Just like in 2019, a special draft round for Gilas Pilipinas will be in effect.
Gilas cadets Will Navarro and Jaydee Tungcab, and Jordan Heading and Tzaldy Rangel are the players to be selected by Terrafirma, NorthPort, and NLEX, which will have the last two picks of the round.