Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Sunday, August 02, 2009

2009 PBA Draft thoughts

FireQuinito has published the 2009 PBA draft results. Shame on and for not getting it up sooner. I know this story is lost in the bigger news of the week, Cory Aquino's death, and that should be everyone's lead story for a long time, but they should still be able to report on what's happening in the rest of the country.

Anyway, this post is really a comment I left on FireQuinito, and assuming I still have any American readers, let me apologize to them right now: This is going to be a fairly impenetrable read, as it references and doesn't explain mediocre Fil-Swiss centers, the PBA's limit of five Fil-foreign players per team, and 2008 MVP Kelly Williams, brother-in-law, Lamont Charles Waters, who was drafted in the second round by Kelly's team, the Santa Lucia Realtors. It's nice to see guys I played with for a couple years at Reyes, LS Greenhills and Xavier getting a chance in the pros.

Let the confusion begin:

That Burtscher pick has to be the biggest 1st Round sucker punch since Isiah Thomas drafted Renaldo Balkman, and everyone made the "did he think he was drafting Ronaldo Blackmon?" joke. And both picks were made by my respective teams. I spent a lot of time with the Alaska franchise, but I can't pretend to know the thought process here. One trend is becoming clear: If you played for Cebuana Lhuillier under coach Luigi Trillo in 2007, you can sit on Alaska's bench for a while. They drafted Bono and now Burtscher, they've hired Nico Uy and Chris Viardo as practice players, and they took on Ariel Capus as a free agent. Now, all they have to do is pick up Macky Escalona and pluck Don Dulay from RoS, and the cycle will be complete. I don't get it, but there seems to be a trend. And, as Ariel Capus and Ken Bono will probably admit, Alaska is as good a place to ride the pine as any. It's one of the few PBA franchises where Fil-Ams and locals really seem to enjoy being around each other. In fact, although the franchise is known for using their "family" approach to lowball players during contract negotiations, the family vibe does exist at Alaska. Plus, you get to be around Jeff Cariaso, maybe the PBA's classiest player, and Willie Miller, certainly the funniest (although it looks like they could both be gone by next season, and if so, all bets are off). If Poch JuiƱo stays on in a reserve role, you get another top-10 hilarious guy to pal around with. And as long as Bong Hawkins is on the sidelines, hijinks will ensue. All in all, I imagine Burtscher will have a fine time watching these guys play.

I would have tipped you on Charles Waters if I knew that he was no longer going by Lamont. He's in great shape, and he plays really, really hard. Doesn't have the greatest instincts, but he tries on defense and can be very tough to box out. He's also a good guy who won't mind playing limited minutes. Unless one of the undrafteds ends up killing SLR someday, you can't do much worse than that.

So if TNT is picking up Nic and Kevin White, which Fil-Ams have to go? Ali probably isn't heading back to Coke so soon. Harvey? Would they move Jimmy to make way for Castro? Whoever is on the outs, I imagine they're pissed. Nobody likes to get kicked off that MVP gravy train. Double bonus! Triple bonus! House and lot! Free load!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found your blog while looking for stuff about Philippine basketball. I just visited some family again this summer after not seeing them for a while, one of my great uncles actually played for the national team during the late 50's. Some really good stuff in this blog and its clear you really enjoyed the Philippines and it's culture while you were there. I'm a little disappointed to see it's not updated as often but it seems like your back stateside so its understandable. Great stuff, keep blogging!

3:07 PM  

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