The PBA Rookie Draft returns to Robinsons Place in Ermita, Manila with Fil-foreign Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser looming as the probable No.1 pick among the aspirants, who were pruned down to 66.
Without G League player Sedrick Barefield, a potential top overall rookie pick, who failed to secure his Philippine Passport on time and Justine Baltazar withdrawing his application from the draft to pursue a career in the Japan B. League, this year's draft has become lean, putting Ganuelas-Rosser, former Arellano star Justin Arana, injured Fil-Am forward Jeremiah Gray, ex-B. League player Javi Gomez de Liano and Ateneo guard Gian Mamuyac as among those expected to be selected early in the draft.
Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia told The Manila Times the choices are now a toss up between Ganuelas-Rosser and Arana.
Ganuelas-Rosser is a 6-foot-7 agile big man, who is currently representing the Philippine 3 x 3 team in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games basketball competition. He was supposed to join the draft last year but was declared ineligible after failing to submit the requirements to the PBA.
He took the next best route by joining the PBA 3 x 3 tournament, a standalone tournament, where he powered the Limitless Appmasters to the inaugural grand championship.
With a more lenient requirement needed for Fil-Am players in this year's draft, there's no stopping Ganuelas-Rosser from joining the pool of aspirants this time.
Then, there's Arana, the 6-foot-6 center, who was described as a traditional big man.
The Bossing were hoping Barefield, a 6-foot-2 guard who played for the Oklahoma Blue in the G League, NBA Thunder's farm team, could join the draft as he was under the team's radar, but he failed to meet the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday to submit his Philippine passport or a Certification from the Department f Foreign Affairs that he's set to get a Philippine passport.
The choices are now down between Ganuelas-Rosser and Arana.
Arana caught the fancy of coaches during the two-day Combine Draft that included not just the individual skills of the hopefuls, but also their potential to play at a PBA level.
The PBA Rookie Draft starts at 4 p.m.
Blackwater will have three picks in the first round as it will select at No.1 and will also take its turn selecting at picks No. 9 and 11.
Terrafirma, which previously held the top overall picks the past three seasons, will be next at No.2.
Converge, the newest team in the league after it acquired the Alaska Aces franchise, will have the No.3 and No.4 picks, respectively and the FiberXers are reportedly hot on taking in Gray, a 6-foot-5 athletic swing man.
The only downside is Gray, who previously played for TNT in the 3 x 3 and Alab Pilipinas in the ABL, is still recovering from a knee injury.
Rain or Shine will also have multiple selections in the draft, picking No. 5 and No. 10.
NorthPort is next at No. 6 and the team is looking for a big man while still dealing with the status of seven-foot slotman Greg Slaughter.
NLEX will be picking at No. 7 while Ginebra is next at No. 8.
Picking last in the first round is Magnolia at No. 12.
TNT and San Miguel Beer, two powerhouse squads, as well as Phoenix, had already dealt their first round picks in previous transactions.