The 2023 PBA Rookie Draft is right around the corner, and it promises to be a momentous event for basketball enthusiasts and teams alike. With an impressive pool of rookie talents, this draft has garnered attention for its potential to reshape the landscape of Philippine basketball. In this mock draft, we will explore the top picks and the potential impact these players could have on their respective teams.
1. Terrafirma Dyip: Stephen Holt
The Terrafirma Dyip are set to make history with their first overall pick in the 2023 PBA Draft. Stephen Holt, a 6-foot-4 former NBA G-League player, is their top choice. Holt’s selection marks a significant moment as he becomes the first player since 1997 to go first overall without playing a pick-up game in the Philippines.
2. Blackwater Bossing: Zavier Lucero
The Blackwater Bossing, known for their rebuilding efforts, choose Zavier Lucero as their second overall pick. Despite his ongoing rehabilitation from a torn ACL, Lucero’s talent is too promising to pass up. His contribution to the UP team’s championship win in UAAP Season 84 demonstrated his potential to be a two-way star.
3. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters: Ricci Rivero
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters select Ricci Rivero with their third overall pick. Rivero’s off-court endeavors and an unsuccessful stint in Taiwan have overshadowed his prior achievements, including being a UAAP Mythical Team member and a Gilas Pilipinas prospect. With Yeng Guiao as his first professional coach, Rivero is poised for a fresh start.
4. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (from Phoenix Super LPG): Ken Tuffin
In a strategic move, Rain or Shine secures Ken Tuffin with their fourth overall pick, acquired from Phoenix Super LPG. Tuffin’s time at FEU might have been overshadowed, but he has honed his skills in the New Zealand NBL, establishing himself as a reliable 3-and-D player.
5. NorthPort Batang Pier: Schonny Winston
The NorthPort Batang Pier are in search of a point guard replacement for Robert Bolick, and they find their answer in Schonny Winston, the best point guard prospect in the draft. Winston’s offensive prowess and ability to direct traffic make him a valuable addition to the team.
ESPN’s Normie Riego notes, “Winston was the best offensive guard in UAAP Season 85, and just like Bolick, he has the potential to shine.”
6. Phoenix Super LPG (from NLEX Road Warriors): Keith Datu
Phoenix Super LPG opts for Keith Datu as their sixth overall pick, recognizing his potential impact as a skilled 6-7 forward. Datu’s transition from PBA 3×3 to 5-on-5 play remains a mystery, but his talent is undeniable.
7. NLEX Road Warriors (from Converge FiberXers): Luis Villegas
NLEX Road Warriors, despite Luis Villegas’s expected recovery from an ACL tear in January or February, select him as their seventh overall pick. Villegas, a former UAAP Mythical Five member, offers versatility and depth to the team.
8. Meralco Bolts: Louie Sangalang
The Meralco Bolts choose Louie Sangalang as their eighth overall pick, recognizing his significant contribution to Letran’s championship run. Sangalang’s determination and winning mentality are valuable assets for Meralco as they embark on a new journey under coach Luigi Trillo.
9. Converge FiberXers (from TNT Tropang Giga via Blackwater Bossing): Brandon Bates
Converge FiberXers make a strategic move by selecting Brandon Bates, a 6-9 center, with the ninth overall pick. Bates’s experience in the semi-pro NBL 1 league in Australia and his towering presence make him a valuable addition to the team’s frontline.
10. Converge FiberXers (from Magnolia Hotshots): Sherwin Concepcion
Converge FiberXers reunite with Sherwin Concepcion, a player who had his best season under coach Aldin Ayo in UAAP Season 82. Concepcion’s shooting prowess and familiarity with Ayo’s system make him a significant asset to the team’s aspirations.
11. NorthPort Batang Pier (from Barangay Ginebra): Fran Yu
NorthPort Batang Pier secures Fran Yu as their eleventh overall pick. Yu’s history with coach Bonnie Tan from their time with Letran Knights and the PBA On Tour during the off-season make him a seamless addition to the team’s point guard rotation.
12. Terrafirma Dyip (from San Miguel Beermen): Brent Paraiso
Terrafirma Dyip selects Brent Paraiso as their twelfth overall pick. Paraiso’s winning mentality and versatility make him an ideal choice for a team looking to turn its fortunes around.
In the 2023 PBA Rookie Draft, these young talents will have the opportunity to prove their worth and contribute to their respective teams’ success. As the draft unfolds, fans eagerly await the moment when these players step onto the court, ready to make their mark in the world of Philippine basketball.