Last night, March 14, 65 hopefuls became one step closer to their dream of becoming professional basketball players for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Two-thirds of all the draftees in the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft were chosen by the 12 teams in the league, which they will hopefully be officially part of in the next seasons.
Tears were shed, messages of thanks were given, and childhood dreams were fulfilled in the draft. But breaths were also held both in anticipation and anxiety of their names being called by any of the teams in the PBA, especially with this year’s draft being one of the longest— having reached an 8th round (the first since 2015). (Read: 5 Reasons Why You Should Watch ‘Gawilan’ on YouTube)
Lucky are those whose names were called early on, breathing a sigh of relief even before the draft was well underway. So who are those who were blessed to have been drafted in the first few rounds? My Pope Philippines rounds up the first five names who were called during last night’s draft!
Draft Pick #1: Joshua Munzon
Joshua Munzon is a Filipino-American player who had experiences with Alab Pilipinas, the Philippines’s contingent for the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), and the FIBA 3×3 Circuit. In all mock drafts prior to the actual draft last night, Joshua has been the top prospect. The 26-year-old stands at 6-foot-4, and will be playing for the TerraFirma Dyip in the PBA.
Draft Pick #2: Jamie Malonzo
Jamie Malonzo of the De La Salle University (DLSU) was the second overall pick for the draft. In just one season in the UAAP, Jamie had made a huge impact for the Green Archers which collegiate basketball fans noticed right away. He was also part of the Mythical Five during that season in 2019. Jamie will be part of the NorthPort Batang Pier.
Draft Pick #3: Calvin Oftana
Calvin Oftana, who stands at 6-foot-5, forewent his last year of eligibility for the San Beda Red Lions to enter the draft. And it has bore fruits for the Gilas Pilipinas player and former NCAA Most Valuable Player, as he was picked third overall in the draft. The San Beda stalwart was chosen by the NLEX Road Warriors, under Coach Yeng Guiao. (Read: How I Lost 50 Pounds Before I Turned 40)
Draft Pick #4: Mikey Williams
Mikey Williams, another Filipino-American, was drafted fourth overall last night. He and his talent are a welcome addition to the TNT Tropang Giga, as one of the team’s star players— Ray Parks, Jr.— announced that he will be sitting out the PBA season due to personal reasons.
Draft Pick #5: Leonard Santillan
Leonard Santillan, known to fans as Santi, was picked by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. The University of the Visayas (UV) and DLSU alumnus was the fifth overall pick who has experience in the FIBA 3×3 Circuit to bring to the table. Santi stands at 6-foot-5 and is a prized big man on the court.
Click here to see the full list of drafted players.