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Sports

Late draft picks Zamar, Galanza living PBA dream

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Late draft picks Zamar, Galanza living PBA dream
Paul Zamar (R) and Bong Galanza
PBA media bureau

MANILA, Philippines — When you look at the roster of a Philippine Basketball Association ballclub, it is correct to infer that these are the best in the trade in the country.

What most do not know is how it wasn’t exactly easy for a few to make the league.

It’s rare for a late draft pick (the fourth, fifth or even sixth round) to latch on to a club. If ever, they come in as a practice player. 

Case in point, Paul Zamar of the San Miguel Beermen and Bong Galanza of the NLEX Road Warriors.

The two were teammates at the University of the East where they played on some good teams that were unable to get over the hump (read: the Final Four and beyond).

Paul, the son of former UE great, Boycie Zamar, was a microwave-type of player during his days in a Red Warriors kit. 

When he heated up, he would hit shots from everywhere. And yet, pro scouts didn’t rate him highly. 

During the 2012 PBA Draft, he was the fifth selection of the fourth round by Barangay Ginebra. 

But he never got on the roster nor even in the league until the 2017-18 season with Blackwater. 

With the 2019 campaign, Paul joined his father, who was an assistant with San Miguel. And he has been there since. 

And of all the players selected ahead of him, only four remain on active PBA rosters.

“The fourth round is too far from those who surely get to secure a contract,” reflected Paul of his PBA journey. “I never got an offer from Ginebra, the team that drafted me. It has been six long years since I got an offer from Blackwater, which was my former team in the D-League.”

Zamar had to ply his trade in the Asean Basketball League with the Thailand-based Mono Vampire. It was there he impressed and soon came the PBA call-up.

“Thank God, I was given a break in Thailand. From there I was offered by Blackwater. Who would not want to play in the highest league in our country? I grabbed the opportunity. I had a good stint with Blackwater and it paved the way for me to join San Miguel.”

Galanza, on the other hand, was the fourth pick of the fifth round by GlobalPort Batang Pier. 

Yet, Bong didn’t suit up for the team that drafted him. 

He played his first year in the PBA with Mahindra where he suited up for only three matches.

In the middle of the 2017-18 season, the former team UE team captain was traded to the NLEX Road Warriors where he not only got more playing time, but would chip in some points off the bench. 

“Sobrang blessed ako,” ruminated Galanza. “Kahit fifth round pick nandito pa rin ako sa PBA ngayon. Yung sinasabi na hard work…. totoo yun. Kahit parang walang nangyayari, ganun pa rin ang mindset.”

“At sobrang thankful din ako dahil kay Coach Yeng Guiao ako napunta at nabigyan ako ng chance para makapaglaro. Dahil sa kanya nandito pa rin ako sa PBA.”

“Playing with San Miguel is very challenging,” added Zamar. “All the players are top caliber players and I really have to step up. Even during this pandemic, I set up my own mini-gym to stay conditioned. I may be given limited playing time but I am always ready to contribute.”

Zamar and Galanza aren’t the only current late picks to be in a PBA roster as of this 2021 Philippine Cup. 

Michael DiGregorio, second pick of the fourth round of the 2015 draft is with Alaska.

In previous years, there was Keith Agovida and Christopher Sumalinog to name a few late draft picks who were able to get a roster spot and play.

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