Unless it changes its mind at the last minute, Columbian Dyip is expected to make CJ Perez as its top pick in the annual PBA Rookie Draft today at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila before an expected huge Sunday crowd in the midst of a Christmas buying spree.
And Perez himself is fully aware of the huge possibility that his first foray in the professional league will see him donning the uniform of Dyip, who are picking first for ending up with the poorest record in the three conferences of the 63rd season that's coming to an end.
The 24-year-old Perez, who played for a year for San Sebastian and had brief stint with Ateneo in the UAAP and lately for Lyceum of the Philippines University in the NCAA, is one of the seven Fil-Ams admitted to the annual draft, the first to be held under Commissioner Willie Marcial.
If selected, Perez, who led the Pirates to a pair of runner-up finishes in the NCAA, said he'll do his best to help the Dyip make a big inroad in the coming season and not let his team and its fans down.
“Siyempre nasa baba (Columbian). As a rookie, kaya ko naman kasi galing ka ng talo sa finals ng collegiate. Kailangan mo pa rin mag-stick ‘yung winning attitude sa sarili ko at kailangan mag-share ako sa mga teammates ko,” said Perez in previous interview with sportswriters.
Aside from Perez, Bobby Parks and former San Beda College stalwart Robert Bolick are also expected to get selected right on the first round of the draft that’s dominated by guards.
There are reports too that Columbian is not discounting the possibility of choosing Parks since the team needs somebody who will take the role of a lead player, exactly the same job the son of former many-time PBA best import awardee Bobby Parks had when he was with the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League.
Should Columbian opt for Perez, it is likely Parks would be going to Blackwater as second pick, with Bolick to end up at NorthPort as third pick.
Perez, Parks and Bolick are among the 47 aspirants who will make themselves available in the draft.
NLEX comes at number four in the order in the first round as it will use the right the Road Warriors gained from a trade with Phoenix last Thursday.
The Fuel Masters gave away the No. 4 pick in exchange for the Road Warriors’ Alex Mallari and Dave Marcelo. Phoenix, which figured prominently in the Governors’ Cup but just could not sustain its run, is in need of battle-tested veterans who could deliver when needed most, and Mallari and Marcelo could be exactly the men it is looking for.
The deal, which came just days before the draft, will also have the Fuel Masters giving away their 2019 second round pick.
The trade could have an effect on the choice for the no. 4 pick in the draft, which the Fuel Masters originally plan to use for big man Abu Tratter, although NLEX is reportedly still considering other talents in the draft pool, among them is Javee Mocon of San Beda, who was adjudged Finals MVP when the Red Lions won their third straight NCAA title last October.
Coach Louie Alas said Phoenix needs somebody like Mallari who, at 6-foot-4, is a big guard who could be a pretty big advantage in the point position.
"Magaling na defender and he has a very long wing span," said the Phoenix coach, referring to Mallari.
Talk ‘N Text comes at number 5, with Meralco following at number 6.
Meralco coach Norman Black, meanwhile, is just as optimistic the team could still ‘fish’ out a handsome catch in the draft.
“You don’t really have a choice of what you get,” said Black, adding their needs are aplenty.
“We need a five-man (center), we need a four-man (power forward), we need a three-man (small forward). It’s only the one and two positions [that we are not looking at] since (Chris) Newsome and Baser (Amer) are there. We need to try to improve on our frontline,” said Black.
The complete order in the first round of the draft that will be presided over by Marcial is as follows: NLEX (No. 7), Rain or Shine (No. 8), Alaska (No. 9), San Miguel (No. 10), Magnolia (No. 11) and Barangay Ginebra (No. 12).