|Local aspirants have until Aug. 3 to apply for PBA Annual Draft|
A big man full of potential, the reigning king of the NCAA, the PBA D-League Most Valuable Player, a former Smart Gilas-Pilpinas training pool member, and a slew of talented Fil-Ams, comprise the field of 61 aspirants who have so far applied for the highly-awaited PBA Annual Draft set three weeks from now at the Robinson Mid-land Manila.
Towering 6-foot-9 Cebuano Junmar Fajardo added a spice of thrill in the August 19 event when he formally submitted his papers at the PBA office Monday and joined a cast of future superstars that already included San Sebastian stalwart Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel, recipients of the MVP award in the NCAA and D-League respectively, one-time national player Aldrech Ramos, and foreign-bred players Chris Ellis, Cliff Hodge, Jason Deutchman, Charles Keith Jensen, and Alex Mallari.
Deadline for local players wishing to join the league’s first formal activity for its 38th season is on August 3.
Air21 owns this year’s top overall pick, although the rights have since been traded to Petron. And the Boosters have not been reticent about their fondness for the 22-year-old Fajardo, who played for the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League.
Fajardo, born in Compostela, Cebu, has been the dominant big man down South the past four years, winning three MVP titles and steering the University of Cebu Webmasters to back-to-back championships in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. or more popularly known as Cesafi.
He once rivaled fellow big man Greg Slaughter of the University of the Visayas, until the Fil-Am center went to the Big City and transferred to Ateneo de Manila.
But this year’s Draft is more than just the Fajardos, Abuevas, Manuels, and the Hodges.
Other familiar names are also in the list, the likes of Ronald Pascual, who forms part of the Stags’ dreaded `Big 3’ along with Abueva and Ian Sangalang, big man Dave Marcelo who played a key role in San Beda’s back-to-back NCAA championships, Jewel Ponferada, Eman Monfort of four-time UAAP title holder Ateneo, former Far Eastern University gunner JR Cawaling, and the Adamson quartet of Lester Alvarez, Janus Lozada, Jerick Canada, and Jan Colina.
Then there’s also the second generation of players such as Raymond Austria, Paul Gonzalgo, Danilo Pribhdas Jr., and Paul Zamar.
All rookie aspirants will undergo the regular biometrics procedure on August 15, before the league issues the final list of candidates on August 16.
Powerade used last year’s no. 1 overall pick on JV Casio, who lost out to no. 2 Paul Lee of Rain or Shine for the coveted Rookie of the Year title in the recent Annual Leo Awards.
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