Alaska Aces to seek 'best available big man' in PBA Draft
Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso

Alaska Aces to seek 'best available big man' in PBA Draft

John Bryan Ulanday (Philstar.com) - January 25, 2021 - 3:46pm

MANILA, Philippines – In case nothing comes out of its still idle negotiation with prized anchor Vic Manuel, Alaska will move on and utilize its seventh pick to tab the top available frontcourt player from the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft looming as the deepest class in years.

Flying on Cariaso’s radar so far are Letran’s Larry Muyang, NU’s Troy Rike, La Salle’s Santi Santillan and James Laput, who may be available on their turn midway through the first round after potential top picks Joshua Munzon and Jaime Malonzo. 

“Unless something comes up differently, this is our route,” coach Jeff Cariaso told The STAR, adding also the need to compensate the absence of veteran center Sonny Thoss. “I’m looking at the best available big man right now. They are part of the discussions.”

Earlier this month, Manuel announced his desired exit from the Alaska camp after six seasons following his contract expiration. He cited NLEX, San Miguel and Phoenix — where his close friend Calvin Abueva plays — as his preferred trade destinations.

Negotiations have been ongoing between two camps since then to reach common ground through a trade or a new agreement if possible to move forward together, but to no avail, none has progressed.

“Nothing happening with Vic as of the moment. There are talks with a couple of teams but nothing concrete yet. All teams are protecting their assets and waiting until the draft,” added Cariaso.

Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas cadet and Ateneo forward Will Navarro joined that list of growing big men prospects after declaring for the draft proceedings set this March 14.

The versatile 6-foot-6 forward was a member of San Beda’s NCAA championship in 2016 and Ateneo’s UAAP dynasty before being called up in the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

He played in the second window in Bahrain last November and currently training in Calamba, Laguna for the third window next month in Clark, Pampanga.

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