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PBA Draft Surprises: The good and not-so-good

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For 37 aspirants, the dream of playing in the biggest basketball tournament in the Philippines is one call away (from PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa).

Surprises, however, have two faces in the PBA draft. Last year, early favorite and UAAP Mythical five member Roi Sumang of the University of the East was almost snubbed after being chosen only in the third round. On the other hand, Rain or Shine’s Maverick Ahanmisi unexpectedly landed as the third pick overall, eclipsing collegiate superstars Scottie Thompson of Perpetual, Chris Newsome of Ateneo and Baser Amer of San Beda.

Fastbreak breaks down these good and not-so-good surprises.

Here are the pleasantly surprised:

1. Jammer Jamito – 3rd pick, first round, regular draft, Ginebra

Jamito is a lanky forward from St. Clare University, an unknown pool of PBA stars compared with UAAP and NCAA schools. But thanks to his impressive showing in the PBA Draft Combine, the 25-year-old cager was selected by 2016 Commissioners Cup champions Ginebra as the third overall pick in the first roun. With the likes of big men Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance around him, Jamito will surely develop his athleticism with the crowd favorite franchise.

2. Jericho De Guzman – 9th pick, first round regular draft, Ginebra

De Guzman merely played for two and a half minutes for St. Benilde. But with his 6’11’’ height, there is no doubt that any team vying for a championship would notice him. The Gin Kings did not miss a chance to tap De Guzman as their third prospect next to Kevin Ferrer and Jamito. The seven-footer Slaughter-De Guzman combo against San Miguel’s twin towers June Mar Fajardo and Arnold Van Opstal will definitely excite the PBA fans soon. After all, you can’t teach height.

3. Reden Celda – 8th pick, first round, regular draft, NLEX Road Warriors

Celda was largely overshadowed by two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks and Gelo Alolino throughout his career with the NU Bulldogs. But despite limited playing time in his four-year NU stint, the 6-foot point guard proved his craft with the PBA D-League team Tanduay Light Rhum Masters where was a consistent double-digit scorer for the squad where he played with UST’s Ferrer. NLEX needs an additional back-up scorer after getting Carlo Lastimosa from Blackwater.

Whew, that was close!

1. Ryan Arambulo – 15th pick, second round, regular draft, Globalport Batang Pier

Arambulo is a versatile player from the United States where he played for the Cal State Fullerton so everybody was expecting him to land higher in the draft picks. But on Sunday, Arambulo only managed to get a spot in the second round when Globalport picked. Aside from US basketball experience, he was an explosive go-to-guy player for the AMA Online Education Titans in D-League so we predict that he could be the big steal for the Terrence Romeo-led Globalport

2. Pao Javelona – 16th pick, second round, regular draft, Phoenix Fuel Masters

Javelona, one of the key players who steered NU to its first UAAP championship in 60 years back in 2014, is a rock solid defender, can hit threes and reliable playmaker. That’s why we were just so anxious just as him when he was called way, way behind, even behind his former NU teammate Celda who hardly played in the UAAP.

For those who have underestimated Javelona, you should ask how he put UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena on lockdown when NU eliminated the top seed Ateneo in 2014 UAAP Final Four. Phoenix really got the best sleeper in him.

3. Achi Iñigo – 19th pick, second round, regular draft, Phoenix Fuel Masters

Again, we can’t understand how teams could snub someone with a championship pedigree like Iñigo. The former FEU stalwart just stands at five-foot-nine, but don’t let his average height fool you because his playmaking is on point. He and Javelona will surely get minutes in the rotation of the upstart Phoenix squad.

We can only say that the draft is just the beginning, so those who were pleasantly surprised should work just as hard as those who almost got snubbed in the draft.

Even NBA legend Kobe Bryant was only picked in the second round. Make our day with excellent work ethic, youngsters.