• TNT to make Tautuaa top overall pick

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    Moala Tautuaa ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

    Moala Tautuaa ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

    Barring any last minute trade transaction which is very unlikely, Talk ‘N Text is expected to make Moala Tautuaa—the 6’7 Filipino-Tongan center-forward—as the top overall pick on Sunday in the 2015 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Draft at the Robinson’s Place in Manila.

    Mahindra Enforcers, which holds the second overall pick, is expected to choose 6’6 Troy Rosario of National University.

    Both players were excused from attending the recent rookie training camp and will miss Sunday’s draft as they have been selected to join the Gilas Pili¬pinas training pool, which is competing in a tournament in Estonia as part of the Nationals’ buildup for the up-coming FIBA Asia Olympic qualifiers.

    Besides from Tautuaa and Rosario, the possible rookies that could be chosen as league’s first five picks in this year’s draft are Norbert Torres of La Salle, Garvo Lanete of San Beda and play¬maker Ahanmisi Maverick of Café France.

    Team manager Eric Pineda of the Mahindra Enforcers confirmed to The Manila Times Saturday that they would pick Rosario since they need a big man.

    “So far, we’re sticking with Rosario as our pick tomorrow (Sunday) because we need a young athletic big man,” said Pineda.

    Talk ‘N Text earned the top pick last October from Blackwater in a trade that also involved Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

    The Elite got Larry Rodriguez and Talk ‘N Text’s 2015 first round pick, while the Tropang Texters got Kevin Alas from NLEX in return for Niño Canaleta. Blackwater acted as the third party in the trade.

    There are a total of 63 rookie hopefuls in this year’s draft. Majority of them won’t be picked and are expected to become rookie free agents that would allow them to negotiate directly with any of the12 PBA teams before the 41st season starts.

    Rain or Shine (From NLEX) picks third in the order of first round draft. Another team that’s also in urgent need of a dependable big man to strengthen its frontline is Meralco (From GlobalPort), which is set to pick at fourth.

    The complete order of the first round will have Barangay Ginebra (from Barako Bull) at fifth, NLEX (Ginebra) at sixth, Meralco at seventh, Start Hotshots at eighth, Blackwater (from TNT) at ninth, NLEX (from SMB) at tenth, Alaska at 11th and Rain or Shine at 12th.

    The complete order of the second round is as follows: (11) Blackwater, (12) Mahindra, (13) RoS (from NLEX), (14) Ginebra (from Gloobal¬port via Barako Bull), (15) RoS (from Barako and globalport), (16) Alaska (from Ginebra), (17) RoS (from Meralco), (18) Barako Bull (from Star Hotshots), (19) Alaska (from TNT), (20) Barako Bull (from SMB), (21) Alaska, and (22) Rain or Shine.

    Surprising trades during draft day are also expected just like in previous years.

    The rookie draft will also see the formal transfer of leadership in Asia’s first play-for-pay basketball league, which is set to open its first conference—the Philippine Cup— on on October 18.

    Outgoing chairman Patrick ‘Pato’ Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text will pass the chairmanship to Barangay Ginebra’s Robert Non, while former commissioner and now league’s President and CEO Chito Salud hands over his previous post to Chito Narvasa.

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