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.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Grading the 2013 PBA Draft Part 1

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Grading the 2013 PBA Draft Part 1
by rick olivares 
pic from

It was a banner and deep draft. When PBA Commissioner Chito Salud announced the first three picks, it was no surprise that three centers were taken one after another in Greg Slaughter, Ian Sangalang, and Raymond Almazan.

Not since the 2002 Draft when FedEx Express selected Yancy De Ocampo out of St. Francis, the Coca Cola Tigers picked Coppin State’s Rafi Reavis, and Sta. Lucia tabbed Mapua’s Omanzie Rodriguez have three slotmen gone 1-2-3.

After the first three picks, it was a crap shoot with some surprises here and there. Let’s take a look at the draft’s biggest winners and the twists and turns.

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Draft haul: Greg Slaughter, James Forrester, John Usita, Alvin Padilla, and Jens Knuttel.
One of the league’s smallest lineups got a whole lot more stratospheric with the acquisition of the 7’0” Slaughter and 6’8” Usita. And they already have 6’10 Japeth Aguilar, 6’8” Jay-R Reyes, and 6’6” Billy Mamaril in tow.

If the bigs can become a scoring force for head coach Ato Agustin, then that will ease the scoring burden from their excellent wing and guard corps.

The exciting James Forrester will also improve Ginebra in another category – dunking. As it is, this team could be the PBA’s version of Lob City with Slaughter, Aguilar, Reyes, Forrester, and Chris Ellis all able to finish the game’s quick strike weapon – the alley-oop.

The trade for spitfire Emman Monfort will bolster their point guard slot that already has LA Tenorio and the steady and effective Josh Urbiztondo.

Ginebra has improved its lineup with trades and draft picks. The question now is, “Can they improve their playoff runs?”

Draft Grade: A+

San Mig Coffee’s Draft haul: Ian Sangalang, Justin Chua, Justin Brian Melton, and JR Cawaling.
Two centers and two swingmen. Head coach Tim Cone says that Ian Sangalang is the most PBA-ready of all the rookies. There is no questioning Sangalang’s talent. The question therefor is: Can he play that slot in Cone’s Triangle Offense?

I say yes. Remember he played with Ronald Pascual and Calvin Abueva in San Sebastian. That’s Mr. Outside Shot and Mr. Death-defying Drive respectively. The post-play in the triangle is crucial because the five has to recognize the defense, the cutters, and who is open. I’d say that Sangalang will help.

I do not want to go against Chua. When challenged, he showed that he could find his own niche. He led Blackwater to the D-League championship against a stacked N-Lex team. And now he’s been drafted.

Both center draft picks will only make Tim Cone’s front line stronger. And to think they already have Yancy De Ocampo, Rafi Reavis, Marc Pingris, Joe Devance, Jewel Ponferada, and Jerwin Gaco. Sangalang and Chua have good medium range shots; a must in Cone’s triangle offense.

Justin Melton despite his hops will really have to find a way to get in the flow of things as the guard spots have a tight rotation. The shooting guard position is pretty much locked down. It’s the PG spot where he can help out.

Draft Grade: A

GlobalPort’s draft haul: Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, Isaac Holstein, Nico Salva, and Jopher Custodio.
This team is undergoing a manpower buildup and a youth movement.

If Isaac Holstein can prove to be steady in the slot then that will help their wingmen. As it is, Enrico Villanueva and Jondan Salvador are undersized now with all the height in the PBA.

Coach Junel Baculi will not have scoring sock in the backcourt with the addition of Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia. Of the two it would be interesting to see how Romeo plays in the PBA. Will his teammates be happy with his trigger happy ways? Can this team with a lot of scorers in the college game share the ball?

Having said that, if Romeo can be this team’s Mark Caguioa then they’ll be solid at the one, two and three-spots.

For Nico Salva to be effective he has to make good with his shots. At 6’2” he is small for the three-spot.

The final lineup will be very interesting for this team.

Draft Grade: B

Rain or Shine’s draft haul: Raymond Almazan, Alex Nuyles, Jeric Teng, Gayford Rodriguez, Ervic Vijandre.

A strong Elasto Painters lineup got more crowded. One thing is for sure, Almazan will solidify that front court position that will allow Beau Belga, JR Quiñahan, Jervy Cruz and Larry Rodriguez even slide back and forth to the four-spot. All these players can hit the medium range jumper. Belga, Quinahan, and Rodriguez have even better range. But Almazan will be the shotblocker this team needs to get out on the break. If he plays well, it will open up the floor for the other wing players of which head coach Yeng Guiao suddenly has a plethora of.

Over at the small forward position, Alex Nuyles will join Jireh Ibanes and Ronnie Matias. Nuyles, if he plays anywhere to his game while at Adamson could even own this spot.

At the two-guard spot, it would be interesting to see how Jeric Teng finds minutes with Jeff Chan and Ryan Araña getting the most minutes. Jonathan Uyloan is good but doesn’t get to showcase his skills as Chan and Araña are there.

The point guard slot is solid with Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu and TY Tang.

Grade: A+

Alaska’s Draft Haul: Ryan Buenafe, Chris Exciminiano, and Raymond Ilagan

Taking a look at the two years in which Alaska has drafted under head coach Luigi Trillo, this team has gone from a primarily Fil-Am team to one that looks more “street”.

“Street” meaning more playground ball and tougher.

Does this mean that they are closer to the 1980s Alaska teams that featured the Bruise Brothers in Ricky Relosa and Yoyoy Villamin and a couple of tough hombres in Frankie Lim and Pongky Alolor?

Well, the Aces have Gabby Espinas, Calvin Abueva, and veteran Eddie Laure. Adding Buenafe brings more swagger to this Alaska team that if you ask me, resembles more of what Trillo’s kind of game is.

The Aces didn’t add too much. Trillo’s strategy is to keep his roster together in order to grow then add a few parts in the mix.

Ryan Buenafe was easily the biggest surprise of the first round. Buenafe gave a glimpse of his pro game in the past UAAP season where he opted to shoot more from the outside and set up his teammates. His assist totals went up but his shooting percentage wasn’t very good. But the thing about Buenafe is when he makes those shots.

Nevertheless, it would be interesting how he adjusts to the pro game that is faster, more physical and one that is increasingly being played above the rim.

With teammates who know how to move without the ball, Buenafe can find them. The problem for Buenafe will be guarding that small forward position that is home to some taller and quick players.

Exciminiano made his name as a defensive player for FEU (at that time they had scorers like Mark Barroca and RR Garcia so they only way he could really get playing time was as a stopper). Right now, Alaska has JV Casio, RJ Jazul, and Raffy Reyes to man the point. 

Draft haul grade: B-

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