Expansion opens up PBA slots

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The addition of two teams to increase the PBA fold to a record 12 has opened up playing opportunities across the league so that when the new season reels off on Oct. 19, at least 23 rookies will be on rosters. The cast of newcomers could expand to over 30 with the activation of two freshmen in the reserve/injured list and the arrival of six drafted standouts now finishing their NCAA obligations.

The rookies include four undrafted players – Globalport’s Roider Cabrera (2014), Kia’s Eder Saluda (2008) and Paul Sanga (2013) and N-Lex’ Jeckster Apinan (2013). Undrafted veterans in the league include Barako Bull’s Chico Lanete (2006), Barangay Ginebra’s Joshua Urbiztondo (2009), Kia’s Chad Alonzo (2006), Hans Thiele (2010), Rudy Lingganay (2010) and Bogart Raymundo (2008) and San Mig Coffee’s Jerwin Gaco (2005).

Rookies who were drafted before this year but never got to play are Blackwater’s Bacon Austria (3rd round, 2012), Kia’s Joshua Webb (3rd round, 2013) and Alvin Padilla (5th round, 2013) and N-Lex’ Byron Villarias (5th round, 2013). In the reserve/injured list are rookies Raul Soyud of N-Lex and Brian Heruela of Blackwater.

Expected to join the PBA after the NCAA season ends are drafted players Anthony Semerad (1st round, Globalport), David Semerad (1st round, Barako Bull), Prince Caperal (2nd round, Globalport), Harold Arboleda (2nd round, traded to N-Lex), Jhong Baloria (3rd round, Blackwater) and John Pinto (2nd round, Globalport). The Semerad brothers are still playing with the San Beda Red Lions. Caperal and Pinto are with Arellano University while Arboleda and Baloria with Perpetual Help.

Based on lineups released by the PBA last Tuesday, every team has at least a rookie except for defending Grand Slam champion San Mig Coffee whose roster is intact and unchanged from last season. Kia tops the league in most rookies with six – playing coach Manny Pacquiao, Saldua, Webb, Sanga, Padilla and Kenneth Ighalo. Next are Blackwater and N-Lex with three each. The Elite has enlisted Austria, Juami Tiongson and J. P. Erram. The Road Warriors are unveiling Kevin Alas, Villarias and Apinan.

While job opportunities opened up for rookies, several veterans were lost in the shuffle as teams made way for young blood. Among the veterans missing in updated lineups are two-time MVPs Willie Miller and Danny Ildefonso, Kerby Raymundo, Mark Yee, Val Acuna, Marvin Hayes, Bonbon Custodio, Leo Najorda, Nic Belasco, Jason Deutchman, Dorian Pena, Rob Labagala, Jens Knuttel, Chito Jaime, Jai Reyes, Raphy Reyes and Mark Bringas.

Of the 24 players picked in the dispersal draft last July, only Belasco, Jai Reyes, Norman Gonzales and Robby Celiz are not on current rosters.

Another result of expansion was the switching of teams involving 35 veterans, excluding nine Air21 holdovers signed up by N-Lex. Blackwater picked up 11 veterans from other teams – Sunday Salvacion, Chris Timberlake, Jason Ballesteros and Paul Artadi from Meralco, Ogie Menor from Air21, Alex Nuyles from Rain Or Shine, Gilbert Bulawan from Barako Bull, J. R. Cawaling from San Mig Coffee, Bam-Bam Gamalinda from Talk ‘N’ Text, Bryan Faundo from Barangay Ginebra and Eddie Laure from Alaska. Globalport welcomed five veterans – Jojo Duncil from San Miguel Beer, Mark Isip and Keith Jensen from Barako Bull, Noy Baclao from Talk ‘N’ Text and Yancy de Ocampo from San Mig Coffee.

Kia brought in veterans Hans Thiele and Reil Cervantes from Barako Bull, L. A. Revilla, Lingganay, Bogart Raymundo and Alonzo from Globalport, Mike Burtscher from Air21 and Rich Alvarez from Talk ‘N’ Text.  

Other transferees include Eric Menk from Globalport to Alaska, R. R. Garcia and Jondan Salvador from Globalport to Barako Bull, Lanete from San Miguel Beer to Barako Bull, Joseph Yeo from San Miguel Beer to Barangay Ginebra, Ryan Buenafe from Alaska to Meralco, Sean Anthony and Simon Atkins from Air21 to Meralco, Mark Macapagal from Globalport to Meralco, Jay Washington from Globalport to Talk ‘N’ Text and Larry Rodriguez from Rain Or Shine to Talk ‘N’ Text.

This season, each team is allowed to maintain an active roster of 14 players plus one in the reserve/injured list. A team may send in as many as 14 to play in a game.


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