Blackwater made power forward Mac Belo and combo guard Raphael Banal on Sunday as the Elite’s possible franchise players in years to come after selecting them in the 2016 Annual Rookie Draft at the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.
Not a surprise to anyone, the former Far Eastern University (FEU) standout Belo was already the first choice of the Elite prior to Thursday’s board of governors meeting.
Blackwater announced Belo as its pick in the special draft composed of Gilas Pilipinas players.
“I’m very happy and blessed that Blackwater picked me,” Belo told The Manila Times during interview. “I will do everything to help the franchise achieve their goal. Aside from playing for Blackwater, I will also do my best to serve our country by playing for Gilas at the same time.”
Banal, the son of former PBA coach Joel Banal, was chosen by Blackwater as the first pick in the regular draft. He said he is excited to play with fellow rookies Belo and Tristan Perez (first pick in the third round), as well as Elite players Kyle Pascual, Dennis Miranda and center JP Erram.
“I’m very excited to play and show our full potential as a young team,” said Banal.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac said he is confident that Belo and Banal would add more teeth to the team in the upcoming Season 42 starting on November 20.
Recently, Blackwater traded its main star Carlo Lastimosa to Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) for James Forrester and a second round pick.
“We are heading to a new direction this coming season, this is also very promising. I’m also excited,” Isaac told The Times. “With Belo and Banal in our line-up, I’m so confident Belo is a big help especially that Erram is still injured.”
Besides Blackwater, Alaska selected Carl Bryan Cruz in the special draft while Barangay Ginebra chose University of Santo Tomas standout Kevin Ferrer, Star Hotshots picked Arellano University star Jiovanni Jalalon, San Miguel Beer selected 6’7 Arnold Van Opstal of De La Salle university and Talk ‘N Text got Roger Pogoy of FEU.
Other Gilas players in the special draft were Mike Tolomia to Rain or Shine, Matthew Wright to Phoenix, Alfonso Gotladera to NLEX, Ed Daquioag to Meralco, Russel Escoto to Mahindra and guard Von Pessumal to GlobalPort.
In the regular draft after Blackwater selected Banal, National University point guard Gelo Alolino was picked by Phoenix at No. 2 followed by Ginebra, which got Jam Jamito at No. 3.
Mahindra grabbed former Mapua forward Joseph Eriobu at No. 4; former University of the East slotman Chris Javier went to Star Hotshots at No. 5; Fil-Am Rashawn McCarthy was made the No. 6 pick by SMB; while Jonathan Grey was picked at No. 7 by Star; Reden Celda to NLEX at No. 8; Ginebra, which already has twin towers Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, tapped 6’11 Jericho de Guzman with the No. 9; and Jeff Javillonar was taken by the Fuel Masters at No. 10.