Wednesday, 7 November 2012 16 Comments
Of the twenty-four players with either UAAP or NCAA experience that were drafted in the last PBA Rookie Draft held on 19 August 2012, only twelve made their respective teams, either as active players or reserves. In truth, at a little past the first round of eliminations of the PBA Philippine Cup, only one has had a significant impact so far, although some have contributed here and there.
Calvin Abueva was drafted at number 2 overall and, although joining the Alaska Aces belatedly due to the San Sebastian Stags’ deep playoff run (they made the final four but lost to Letran), has already shown why he was ranked very high in everyone’s draft lists in August. In only four games, he is averaging more than 15 points a game, leads the Aces in rebounds with 10.5 per game, as well as in steals with 2 a game, and averages 2.5 assists. He does all that in under twenty-seven minutes a game. He has also had countless interceptions, looseball recoveries, and deflections, has taken charges, blocked shots, and passed to his teammates for open looks.
Abueva has clearly had the most significant impact among all rookies thus far and was already named PBA Press Corps Player of the Week a couple of weeks back. Despite being undersized at only 6’1 ½, he has remained almost the same player he was in college, with less fanfare and showboating. He is reliable and effective and truly has been The Beast for Coach Luigi Trillo.
Guard Raphy Reyes from UE gets only about ten minutes a game in Alaska’s backcourt, but has been steady when given the chance. He has shown he can hit the PBA three-pointer.
Fifth pick Aldrech Ramos of FEU has played less than twelve minutes a game in six of the seven outings of the San Mig Coffee Mixers (SMC), due to the crowded SMC frontcourt. He averages just under three points a game.
Jewel Ponferrada of NU, also drafted by SMC, has only played one minute in the PBA.
Chris Tiu of Ateneo, drafted 7th overall, made his first attempt, a two-point jumper, in Rain or Shine’s debut, but only minutes later aggravated an existing hamstring injury and had to sit out the rest of the game. He added 2 assists to his 2 points, but hasn’t played since then. He should be back in a week or two.
Late Talk ‘N Text draftee Jaypee Belencion of Letran did not stick with the team that drafted him, but somehow landed on the Meralco Bolts’ roster. As a deep reserve, he has played in five of seven games, but for only about four minutes a game. He averages just a little over a point.
Air 21 drafted Simon Atkins of DLSU as a back-up guard, and he has actually done a pretty commendable job. He averages about fourteen minutes a game, has played in all seven games of the Express thus far, with averages of 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, with a high of 7 assists against Petron Blaze in a dominant win last week.
Yousef Taha, who is listed as having played for North Lake, but actually spent some time with Mapua, is the other impressive rookie with NCAA roots. He has been an active big man who challenges shots, gets rebounds, and runs the floor well for Air 21. He plays about twenty minutes a game, and averages more than 4 points, almost 7 rebounds, and a blocked shot a game.
The team with the most rookies from the UAAP and/or NCAA making its roster is the Barako Bull Energy Colas. Emman Monfort of Ateneo has been on injured reserve since before opening day and has not seen any action. The other drafted guard, Lester Alvarez of Adamson, has played in six of eight Barako games, playing an average of over ten minutes per game in spot duty, but has not shot well at all.
Former UAAP Rookie of the Year Woody Co of UP joined Monfort on the reserve list at the start of the season, but made the active roster after a few games. He has, however, only played in one game for only four minutes, scoring a single two-point basket.
Finally, Dave Marcelo of San Beda has played only three games for Barako, averaging just six minutes a game, with averages of less than a point and a rebound per outing. Similar to SMC’s Ramos, Marcelo is lost in his team’s frontcourt shuffle.
Talk ‘N Text, Petron, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, and Global Port do not have any rookies on their respective rosters that came from either the UAAP or NCAA.
Most of the rookies above-mentioned have found it difficult to crack the regular rotation of their teams, particularly due to the presence of more experienced players at their desired positions. The good thing, though, is that most, if not all, of them have been ready when called upon to relieve some of the veterans, and have been given much praise and commendation by their coaches and teammates for having contributed well in limited duty. Surely, their talent is there. They would not have made their teams’ rosters otherwise. Hopefully, more opportunities will come for them in the near future.
You can follow Charlie Cuna on Twitter @Charlie C.