There were no surprises in the first five picks of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft as the reigning three-time Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beermen picked 6’8” Fil-German Christian Standhardinger as the top pick in the draft on Sunday at Robinsons Place Manila in Ermita.
San Miguel earlier secured the number one pick following a controversial deal with the Kia Picanto, which had owned the first pick but traded it to SMB in exchange for bench players Ronald Tubid, JayR Reyes, Rashawn McCarthy, and a 2019 first round pick.
Standhardinger, 28, is expected to form a mighty twin-tower frontline with 6’10” four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo to match Barangay Ginebra’s twin towers of 7-footer Greg Slaughter and 6’9” Japeth Aguilar.
However, the Beermen cannot use Standhardinger yet in the upcoming 2017-2018 Philippine Cup as the Gilas standout has signed up with the Hong Kong Eastern Sports Club in the ASEAN Basketball League and will not be available to play for SMB until midway in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup.
The NLEX Road Warriors, who owned the second pick, selected talented 6’0” combo guard Kiefer Ravena, 24, a former Ateneo, Mighty Sports, Alab Pilipinas, and Gilas standout. Nicknamed the “Phenom,” Ravena will form a young backcourt duo with Kevin Alas, backed up by equally explosive veterans Larry Fonacier, Alex Mallari, and Cyrus Baguio.
Picking third, the Blackwater Elite bolstered its frontline by tapping 6’4” Raymar Jose, a 25-year-old center-forward from Far Eastern University and Gilas mainstay who is known for his fierce rebounding and inside incursions. He reunites with former FEU teammate Mac Belo in Blackwater.
The Phoenix Fuel Masters, picking fourth, selected 6’3” Fil-Am forward Jason Perkins. The 25-year-old former La Salle stalwart is expected to bolster the frontline of the Fuel Masters, who just named Louie Alas as their new head coach.
The Alaska Aces then selected 23-year-old forward Jeron Teng as the fifth overall pick. The 6’2″ two-time champion in the UAAP with La Salle is expected to give the Aces a much-needed boost on offense.
The GlobalPort Batang Pier made the first surprise of the first round when it picked unheralded 6’3” Fil-Am Rob Herndon at No. 6. The 24-year-old Herndon, however, could be a “sleeper”—a term for a relatively unknown athlete with huge potentials. In the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup this season, he averaged 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds with Victoria Sports.
Next, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters selected former Letran ace shooting guard Rey Nambatac at No. 7, who reunites with former Letran teammate Raymond Almazan and former college coach Caloy Garcia. The 5’10” guard nicknamed “The Stingray” was one of the deadliest scorers in the NCAA.
Phoenix then selected 6’4” forward Fil-Nigerian Sidney Onwubere from Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Star selected 6’5” former Arellano center Lervin Flores at No. 9. The 23-year-old Flores emerged as this year’s NCAA Slam Dunk champion.
TNT KaTropa picked Cebuano guard Mark Tallo and UCBL forward Jon Gabriel with the 10th and 11th selections in the first round. Gabriel was last year’s MVP in the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (NAASCU) playing for Colegio De San Lorenzo.
Surprisingly, highly regarded UP Maroons star Jett Manuel was only picked at No. 12 by the recently crowned back-to-back Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra. The 24-year-old 6’2″ combo guard was a member of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas squad in Fiba Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China and averaged 15.0 points in last year’s UAAP.