This year’s draft class was perhaps one of the best and deepest classes we’ve seen in recent memory

By Klyde Manansala | Photo from PBA Images

Declaring the winners of PBA draft night days after it concluded is never an accurate assumption, so the only thing that we’re banking on is a college player’s resume and a team’s status. Rebuilding or not, teams couldn’t be more fortunate to select among the pool of talent that’s comprised of different fighters with different characters—some of which finished their storied college career on a high note. From lethal scorers and elite defenders to smart playmakers, here are the teams who zeroed in on the right pieces that could fit nicely into their own respective systems.

Columbian Dyip

Notable additions: CJ Perez, JP Calvo

If there’s a team that’s in dire need of someone who can lift them out of the abyss, it’s definitely Columbian Dyip. They could have been better off than they were the previous seasons had they not made a franchise-altering mistake last year. Trading their top pick to San Miguel Beermen (who then picked Christian Standhardinger) was not the move you’d expect to see from a team trying to get better. But brighter days are coming for them. Columbian Dyip finally secured a potential franchise cornerstone in CJ Perez, a highly-touted prospect from the LPU Pirates.

For a team who’s been on a slump over the years, figuring out how to win may take some time, but the upside right now is that they have a blueprint to follow with their number one pick. Perez is a two-way player who can create scoring opportunities and lock down on top players. He’s shown flashes of brilliance that remind you of Calvin Abueva during his NCAA career, which earned him the moniker “Baby Beast.” Though he doesn’t have the same level of aggressiveness that Abueva possesses, Perez is athletic enough, can dictate the game’s pace, and will do anything to win.

“For a team who’s been on a slump over the years, figuring out how to win may take some time, but the upside right now is that they have a blueprint to follow with their number one pick

Moreover, a surprise late first-round pick emerged  as the Dyip acquired JP Calvo of Letran Knights. Calvo was hailed MVP in the 2018 PBA Draft Combine  which gives a bit of light why Columbian opted to draft him. Calvo is only 5’7” but he makes up for his lack of size with his defense and toughness. He can also knock down the three-ball  and penetrate. At 21 years old (the youngest in the 47-strong field of draftees), Calvo has all the time he needs to further harness his talent.

Blackwater Elite

Notable additions: Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter, Jericho Cruz, Brian Heruela

*Desiderio and Tratter were originally picked by NLEX Road Warriors and were later offered to the Elite in exchange for JP Erram—trade is still in queue as they await the PBA Board’s approval

Blackwater Elite has been slowly getting out of their rut in part due to the sudden rise of JP Erram (who is now on the trading block). But even though they’ve had good runs in the eliminations, it doesn’t change the fact that they still have a long way to go to be considered a legitimate “elite” team, especially now that Erram, who’s been on a tear lately for Team Pilipinas and Blackwater, is on his way out.

The Elite agreed to send their number two pick Ray Parks to Meralco Bolts in a three-team deal with TNT Tropang Texters. In return, they will have the services of seasoned players Jericho Cruz and Brian Heruela. Moreover, they are also set to acquire NLEX’s picks: Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter. Even with these changes, there’s no changing of plans for the Elite. They will have to keep marching forward with what they have.

“Even though they’ve had good runs in the eliminations, it doesn’t change the fact that they still have a long way to go to be considered a legitimate “elite” team, especially now that Erram, who’s been on a tear lately for Team Pilipinas and Blackwater, is on his way out

What makes Elite a stronger offensive team is the addition of Desiderio who’s had one hell of a UAAP career with the UP Fighting Maroons. Blackwater’s hunt for a point guard who can stabilize their offense is over now that a fighter like Desiderio will be calling the shots in the back court.

Finally, parting ways with Erram is a huge blow for the Elite, but letting him go only means that they’re looking to be much more younger. Their acquisition of Desiderio, former DLSU Green Archer Abu Tratter, former Road Warrior Cruz, and former Beerman Heruela not only made them a younger team, it also made them faster and stronger.

Northport Batang Pier 

Notable additions: Robert Bolick

From a mere benchwarmer to NCAA champion and finally a PBA top three pick, Robert Bolick has firmly established himself as one of the most exciting players long before draft day. He had the most illustrious college career after evolving into a player that every team would dream of having: a man who fights with a heart. Bolick’s competitiveness is his biggest edge among everyone in the draft. He has a multifaceted game that makes him a good complementary player for Stanley Pringle.

“Bolick’s competitiveness is his biggest edge among everyone in the draft. He has a multifaceted game that makes him a good complementary player for Stanley Pringle

Pringle is bearing a massive offensive responsibility for the Batang Pier, but now that Bolick has arrived, it will only lighten his load on both ends of the floor. Both of them are established scorers (though still mastering their craft), defensive specialists, and brilliant playmakers. Without a doubt, Bolick and Pringle will be a potent duo for Batang Pier.

Meralco Bolts

Notable additions: Bobby Ray Parks, Trevis Jackson, Bong Quinto

The smartest move that Meralco Bolts could have done was to acquire someone who could bolster their inside game due to their aging frontline. That someone could have been Tratter, but they went sideways and chose Trevis Jackson, a guard who plays like Chris Ross. His firm defense, hard penetrations, and perimeter jumpers are his strongest assets, but whether he’s also a bankable three-point shooter remains to be seen.

Trading an upsurging Baser Amer didn’t entirely blew up their solid core, especially that they replaced him with players who love to run just like him. Jackson is someone who can control the tempo of the game. Sharing the back court with the likes of explosive players like Chris Newsome and Parks, expect the Bolts to run down the court every chance they could get.

“Jackson is someone who can control the tempo of the game. Sharing the back court with the likes of explosive players like Chris Newsome and Parks, expect the Bolts to run down the court every chance they could get

Parks, who was originally picked by the Elite before finally finding his spot with coach Norman Black, is also proof that Meralco is looking to prepare for their future. After playing in various leagues in and out of the country, Parks is considerably a well-rounded player that’s more than ready to play in PBA long before he arrived. He can create scoring opportunities for every guy on the floor and has a strong perimeter game as well.

In addition to that, the Bolts picking Bong Quinto in the second round is arguably the biggest draft steal this year. Quinto was expected to be picked earlier, but even Meralco was surprised he was still available in the second round.

With Quinto around, the Bolts is now equipped with a player that can shine in all aspects of the game. He basically led the charge for the undermanned Letran Knights in his last NCAA season. Aside from racking up points form the perimeter and the paint, he’s also a top assist player who can play either small forward or two-guard.