Caloy Garcia
5 PBA rookies to watch for Garcia
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With the PBA’s 45th season on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia took time to study the league’s rosters yesterday and chose five rookies, each from a different team, to watch when the campaign reopens.

The Elasto Painters enlisted four rookies, the most of any team, but Garcia left out his freshmen – Adrian Wong, Clint Doliguez, Prince Rivero and Vince Tolentino – from the cast of five. The five whom Garcia picked were Columbian’s 6-5 Roosevelt Adams, NLEX’ 6-0 Mike Ayonayon, Magnolia’s 6-5 Aris Dionisio, Blackwater’s 6-4 Richard Escoto and NorthPort’s 6-4 Sean Manganti.

There are at least 20 rookies in the PBA’s 12 team lineups. Excluded are the top five picks who were seconded to the Gilas pool – Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi and Mike Nieto. Adams, 25, was the first overall draft pick after the Gilas five while Ayonayon, 27, was the third, Manganti, 26, the eighth, Dionisio, 24, the ninth and Escoto, 23, the 14th.

Garcia said Adams will be a perfect complement to CJ Perez. “He’s athletic,” said Garcia. “He can hit the three-point shot.” Adams, a Fil-Am from Yuma, Arizona, played two years with the Mount San Jacinto junior college varsity then suited up two years for the College of Idaho, an NAIA Division 2 school. Adams averaged 8.9 points and 7.4 rebounds at Idaho in 2016-17 and 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 2017-18. Last year, he was on the Mighty Sports team that won the Jones Cup in Taipei, averaging 6 points and 3.1 rebounds in eight contests.

Garcia said Ayonayon, the 2019 MPBL Datu Cup Finals MVP with the champion San Juan Knights, is a fit with the Road Warriors. “Ayonayon gained so much experience in the MPBL and showed he can play in big games,” said Garcia. “Plus his style will fit coach Yeng’s (Guiao) system.” Garcia is familiar with Guiao’s system and was his assistant at Rain or Shine and Gilas at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. 

Dionisio was likened to Rain or Shine forward Mark Borboran by Garcia. “Aris reminds me of Borboran,” said Garcia. “He fits Magnolia’s defensive scheme perfectly and can be a good role player off the bench for any team once he can hit his outside shots consistently. He’ll be a good player.” Dionisio, a St. Clare standout from Bustos, Bulacan, was the 2019 MPBL Datu Cup Defensive Player of the Year and averaged 13.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and a league-high 2.4 blocked shots that season.

Escoto, who played for Iloilo in the MPBL Lakan Cup, is reunited with FEU coach Nash Racela at Blackwater. He was on the Philippine team that played at the FIBA Asia U16, FIBA Asia U18, FIBA World U17 and FIBA 3x3 World U18 competitions. “Escoto played as a go-to guy in the MPBL and developed a much more well-rounded player,” said Garcia. “He can play the wing and forward spots. His advantage is he played for coach Nash (at FEU) so it won’t be hard for him to adjust to his coaching philosophy.”

As for Manganti, Garcia said he’ll get his minutes at NorthPort with Robert Bolick and Jonathan Grey still out of commission. “With NorthPort’s injuries, he’ll be given playing time and we know in college (Adamson), he’s a good scorer,” said Garcia. Manganti, a Fil-Am from San Diego, played with the University of Maine at Presque Isle varsity in 2013-14, averaging 8.7 points, before moving to Adamson in the UAAP.

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