Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Casio is top PBA pick in Gilas-heavy draft

Casio is top PBA pick in Gilas-heavy draft
by Rick Olivares and Mia Domingo

August 28, 2011
Robinson’s Place
Ermita, Manila

As expected, Powerade chose former La Salle gunner and Smart Gilas point guard Joseph Evans Casio as the overall number one pick of the 2011 Philippine Basketball Association Draft.

Casio’s selection opened up a frenzy among PBA ballclubs to snag the national players who made themselves available for the annual rite of renewal by Asia’s first pro hoops loop. Six Gilas players were taken in the first round with one in the second round.

The Powerade Tigers who finished with a 9-22 record for the entire PBA Season 36 got a huge boost for the upcoming campaign when they selected Casio to run their offense. The former Green Archer, who turns 25 this coming Thursday (Sept1) was pivotal in Smart Gilas’ three-year campaign to avail of a slot to the 2012 London Olympics (that will be determined by next month’s FIBA Asia tournament in Wuhan, China). Said Casio who was visibly moved by the selection as well as making the PBA, a longtime dream of his: “Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala na ako yung unang matatawag. Basta ma-draft, okay na. I feel blessed with this honor given to me. Hindi naman ako mahihirapan sa pag-adjust sa brand of play sa PBA dahil nakasali na kami [Gilas] dati so familiar na ako sa laro rito.”

Just as this past PBA season where the league went back to the old three-conference format, so did the draft where teams selected players until all have opted not to pick from the pool of talent.

The two-conference format began with the 2004 season while the two-round draft was put in effect a year later.

Paul Lee, the high-scoring former University of the East Red Warrior, was selected by Rain or Shine (13-17 for last season) with the number two pick.

The third overall pick originally belonged to Barako Bull however, the team swapped draft spots with the newly crowned Governors Cup champions Petron Blaze Boosters (18-13) who owned the number eight pick. The switch saw Carlo Sharma and Dondon Hontiveros trade places with Sunday Salvacion and Mick Pennisi.

Hontiveros was reunited his old ballclub as was Pennisi and Salvacion. Although for Pennisi, Barako is not the old powerhouse he once knew when the team routinely challenged for a championship with players like Davonn Harp, Topex Robinson, Kerby Raymundo, Enrico Villanueva, and Cyrus Baguio.

With the pick, the Blaze Boosters chose Gilas’ Chris Lutz, formerly of Smart Gilas and Marshall University where he was team captain in his last year with the Thundering Herd.

Powerade, who acquired the fourth overall draft pick which they got from the Larry Rodriguez-Eddie Laure trade with Rain or Shine, picked the 6’2” Marcio Lassiter from the national team. Lassiter, the former Cal-State Fullerton Titan who also improved a lot under Coach Rajko Toroman in the Smart Gilas program, will be reunited with Casio in the Tigers’ fold., formerly Air21 (11-20), made a splash by naming former La Salle Green Archer and San Miguel Beerman Franz Pumaren as their first-ever head coach. Pumaren steered La Salle to five UAAP men’s basketball titles during his celebrated stint with his alma mater. And with the fifth pick, they selected the exciting razzle dazzle guard Mark Barroca, who once starred for the FEU Tamaraws and Smart Gilas.

The Alaska Aces (16-15), who were shut out of contention for all three finals berth last season went with Gilas’ forward Marnel Baracael who also played for FEU in the UAAP. With the loss of Elmer Espiritu and Joe Devance, it is hoped that Baracael will shore up their rebounding woes.

Talk ‘N Text (25-6) originally owned the seventh overall pick but they gave it up for the Meralco Bolts for Yee and a future draft pick. The Bolts acquired the services of 6’6 forward-center Jason Ballesteros. He was a part of Smart Gilas and a former San Sebastian Stag who could’ve won the MVP award in 2008 if only his team entered the Finals.

Barako Bull (3-11), finally selecting in the first round, tabbed former UST Tiger Allein Maliksi. Maliksi, who saw action with the Cebuana Lhullier Gems in the PBA D-League is also the first MVP its inaugural tournament. He was also a member of the Philippine Patriots Champion team that bagged the first ABL crown.

After losing Rudy Hatfield who went back to the United States, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings (20-11), for the ninth overall pick selected forward Reil Cervantes out of FEU.

Cervantes adds some ceiling and low post scoring for the Gin Kings who drew inconsistent performances from the oft-injured Eric Menk and Enrico Villanueva and Billy Mamaril.

Barako Bull wrapped up the first round by using the pick acquired from Talk ‘N Text in exchange for the 2008 1st round draft pick. The Energy Boosters selected another Gilas mainstay and UST Tiger in Dylan Ababou who was named UAAP MVP in 2009.

Shopinas opened the PBA Draft’s second round when they chose 6’7” center Magi Sison out of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons who also once suited up for Smart Gilas.

Then Talk ‘N Text that failed in its 2011 Grand Slam bid, named Pamboy Raymundo as the 12th pick of the draft.  The shifty playmaker a vital cog for the San Sebastian Stags and the NLEX Road Warriors.

The Alaska Aces owned the third, fourth and fifth slots for the draft which they used to acquire the services of Erik Salamat, who played for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA D-League as well as Julius Pasculado and Ariel Mepana of Max! Bond.

The B-Meg Llamados, for their first pick this year (sixth pick of the second round) got Brian Ilad, who spent his college years at PCCR before transferring to DLSU.

The second round’s seventh pick, originally owned by Alaska, was traded to Meralco for a second round pick in 2014. With that slot, the Bolts picked San Sebastian’s Gilbert Bulawan who also saw action with the FCA Cultivators team in the D-League.

Ginebra, who acquired the eighth pick from Shopinas chose another guard in James Martinez. After exhausting his playing years with UE last season, he played for the Jr. Powerade team in the PBA D-League.

Barako Bull used the 9th and 10th pick from Petron and Ginebra from the Billy Mamaril trade, to tab UE’s Kenneth Acibar and UP’s Paul Sorongon. Acibar saw action with Cobra and Sorongon with PC Gilmore in the D-League. Ironically, the last pick in the second round is an 11th pick, or 21st overall.

In an ironic twist considering how acrimonious the Governors’ Cup Finals meeting was between TNT’s Chot Reyes and Petron’s Ato Agustin, the Tropang Texters drafted Marc Agustin, the son of Petron’s head coach Ato. The younger Agustin played for Leo Austria in Adamson.

For the third round, eight of the ten teams opted to pass except for Shopinas and Petron for the seventh and eight pick. Shopinas selected another point guard in Marc Cagoco while Petron acquired Fil-foreigner Felimon Fernandez. And, for the fourth round, nine of the ten teams opted to pass except for Petron for the eighth pick. The Blaze Boosters selected Jerald Lapuz, the heavily built center who is currently seeing action for the Arellano University Chiefs in the NCAA.

Twenty-four of the 34 applicants this year were drafted with seven coming from Smart Gilas. In last year’s PBA Draft, Air21 and Rain or Shine selected former national players Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Rey Guevarra, and RJ Jazul respectively. The only high-profile player from the Manny Pangilinan-backed national squad is Chris Tiu who opted to re-sign with the Gilas program.

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