Filed Under: Basketball, PBA, PBA 2010 Rookie Draft, Nonoy Baclao, Rabeh Al Hussaini, Rey Guevarra, Elmer Espiritu, Josh Vanlandingham, Jimbo Aquino, John Wilson, Pari Llagas, Shawn Weinstein, Sean Michael Anthony
MANILA, Philippines—In one of the most stunning PBA Draft Day turnarounds, Air21 made former Ateneo standout Siverino “Nonoy” Baclao the top pick Sunday, selecting him ahead of celebrated teammate Rabeh Al-Hussaini before a huge crowd at the Market! Market! in Taguig City.
No one was more surprised by Air21’s choice than the two collegiate teammates, who powered Ateneo to back-to-back UAAP crowns in 2008 and 2009.
“I thought I was going to be No. 2,” said Baclao, the 2008 UAAP Finals Most Valuable Player, who joined Ateneo after playing for West Negros University in Bacolod. “It’s just a blessing to be picked.”
“Of course, I’m not happy. Disappointed,” said Al-Hussaini, the 2009 UAAP MVP, after he was announced as the second pick by the Express. “It’s an insult.”
Al-Hussaini was in a pensive mood throughout the drafting exercise, but acted a little more subdued when he was approached by reporters later.
“It only means that I’m not the best in the field,” the 6-foot-7 center, who will play alongside half-brother, Carlo Sharma, in the Express. “I’ll take it as a challenge. I’ll just play my best to make all the fans happy.”
Johann Ramos, Air21’s representative to the PBA board, did not give any reason why they picked Baclao ahead of Al-Hussaini.
“Basically, they’re going to the same team,” Ramos said. “If you’re really good, you have to prove yourself.”
Ramos immediately quashed rumors that the former Ateneo standouts will be traded, saying the duo will be the cornerstones of their rebuilding squad.
“They’ll be developed,” said Ramos. “They’ll compliment each other. They’ll be like Batman and Robin.”
Former Letran star Rey Guevarra was picked third by the Express with Elmer Espiritu going to Alaska at No. 4, after the Aces got the rights from Talk ‘N Text in a trade that sent Larry Fonacier to the Tropang Texters.
Air 21 also got Sean Anthony at No. 6, but the Express reportedly sent the Filipino-American, along with gunner Renren Ritualo to Powerade (formerly Coca-Cola), for future draft picks late last night.
Rain or Shine made Filipino-American Josh Vanlandingham the fifth pick and selected RJ Jazul from Letran at No. 15 in the second round.
Barangay Ginebra, already with a guard-loaded lineup, added three more to its roster by taking former NCAA MVP John Wilson from Jose Rizal U at No. 7, Jimbo Aquino from San Sebastian at No. 8 and Rob Labagala from University of the East at No. 12.
B-Meg Derby Ace took former UE center Pari Llagas at No. 9 and teammate Val Acuna at No. 13.
Meralco selected Shawn Weinstein at No. 10 after getting the rights from Alaska as part of the deal that sent Bonbon Custodio to the Aces. The Bolts also picked former Ateneo big man Ford Arao at No. 14 and Khasim Mirza at No. 16.
Air 21 traded its 17th pick to Powerade, which used it on Jai Reyes, while Alaska rounded out the proceedings by getting Marvin Hayes from JRU at No. 21.