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Deepest PBA draft in years draws record 97 aspirants

Deepest PBA draft in years draws record 97 aspirants

John Bryan Ulanday (Philstar.com) - January 27, 2021 - 5:43pm

MANILA, Philippines – All is set for the biggest, deepest and finest class in years as a record-breaking crop of talents have joined the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft at the end of the application deadline Wednesday.

A total of 97 rookie hopefuls threw their hats to the draft proceedings set on March 14, surpassing the 91-man cast in 2014 led by Stanley Pringle as the largest draft class in history.

La Salle’s Aljun Melecio bannered the last-minute applicants, opting to forego final playing year in the UAAP to enter the star-studded draft led by an influx of collegiate talents, prized Filipino-Foreign prospects, 3x3 aces and amateur standouts amid the pandemic.

Justine Baltazar, considered as the best collegiate center today, was the lone prospect to skip this year’s draft to play his final year with the Green Archers and focus in Gilas training.

Other prominent names beating the deadline are NCAA MVP and Gilas Pilipinas cadet Calvin Oftana of San Beda, Adamson's Jerrick Ahanmisi, Alab Pilipinas’ Jordan Heading and FEU’s Alec Stockton with Filipino-American stalwarts Mikey Williams and Taylor Statham.

They added further depth to an already stacked list top-billed by the country’s No.1 3x3 player Joshua Munzon from Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and high-flying wingman Jaime Malonzo of La Salle, who are likely to go 1-2 in the selection.

Also poised to be early picks are other 3x3 aces Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike, Santi Santillan and Franky Johnson, Gilas Pilipinas cadets Will Navarro and Jaydee Tungcab with frontcourt prospects Larry Muyang of Letran, La Salle’s James Laput and Adamson’s Jerrick Ahanmisi.

Other Fil-Foreign applicants Jason Brickman, Jeremiah Gray and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser from Alab are also in the draft pending requirements including the Department of Justice affirmation and Bureau of Immigration recognition.

The submission of those requirements for Fil-Foreign hopefuls may be extended to March 10 from its original deadline Wednesday, according to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, who will suggest it to the Board of Governors in a meeting Thursday.

With cadets Navarro, Tungcab and Oftana in the draft, the PBA in will also decide Thursday if it is to hold another special Gilas draft for the second straight year.

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