2023 PBA Rookie Draft Recap: Deep talent pool, Fil-foreign players on the rise

MANILA, Philippines – A ray of hope for Philippine basketball industry as the nation’s biggest league, the PBA, and its ball clubs have selected 79 new players at the recently concluded Season 48, 2023 Rookie Draft on September 17 at Market! Market! in Taguig City.

Philippines’ top ballers have been going overseas for a better future and skills enhancement which totally alarmed the PBA and its fans. But the basketball gods heard the clamor of every Filipino basketball aficionado as this year’s draft yielded a vast pool of talents.

How extraordinary is this year’s draft? Well, to give you an idea, collegiate standout Ricci Rivero was picked 17th overall. Imagine the players who were selected ahead of the former UP Maroon; that’s how profound this year’s rookie pool is.

Ricci Rivero 2023 PBA Rookie Draft
79 out of 124 players have been selected in the 2023 PBA Rookie Draft. Photo Credit: PBA

Another fact: No local player was selected in the first round; all first-rounders are Fil-foreign spearheaded by Stephen Holt who was chosen by TerraFirma Dyip.

Stephen who? Stephen Holt, ladies and gentlemen. A 31-year-old, 6’4” Fil-am globetrotter who has played in various leagues in Europe and in Australia’s NBL for Brisbane Bullets.

For the second pick, Black Water Bossings chose US NCAA Butler University’s 6’6” power forward Christian David.

For the third pick, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters opted for big man Luis Villegas, a 6’7” Fil-am who played for the University of the East Warriors.

The Elasto Painters, who also owned the fourth pick, selected another center, 6’8” Keith Datu Jr. from Chico State University.

For the fifth pick, NorthPort Batang Pier took Zavier Lucero, a 6’6” UAAP star who played for the University of the Philippines.

For the sixth pick, Phoenix Super LPG went for 6’4” sharp-shooter Kenneth Tuffin who played for Far Eastern University and Wellington Saints in New Zealand NBL.

For the seventh pick, the crowd went wild after the name “Ricci” was called on stage. To their dismay, it was 6’2” Kiwi, Ricci Rodger whom NLEX Road Warriors settled with instead of Ricci Rivero.

For the eight pick, Meralco Bolts got 6’8” Aussie center and rim protector, Brandon Bates from De La Salle University.

For the ninth pick, Converge FiberXers selected 6’4” prolific scorer and Green Archer Schonny Winston.

The FiberXers, who also owned the tenth pick, called up another guard, 6’1” Hong Kong-born and Ateneo de Manila University BJ Andrade and nephew of FiberXer deputy coach, Danny Ildefonso.

For the eleventh pick, NorthPort Batang Pier chose 6’5” Aussie bruiser and Arellano University Chief Cade Flores.

For the last pick of the first round, TerraFirma Dyip selected 6’2” Taylor Miller from Westminster University.

Tough luck for home-grown players in the first round as none of them was picked. But in the second round, amateur league and collegiate stars were called one at a time led by Kemark Carino for TerraFirma Dyip as their second round top choice.

Below are the second to twelfth pick in round number two including stalwarts Ricci Rivero of UP and Raffy Verano of ADMU:

2. Converge FiberXers -- Bryan Santos
3. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters -- Henry Galinato
4. Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- Raffy Verano
5. Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- Ricci Rivero
6. NLEX Road Warriors -- Enoch Valdez
7. Converge FiberXers -- JL delos Santos
8. Blackwater Bossing -- James Kwekuteye
9. NLEX Road Warriors -- JM Nermal
10. TerraFirma Dyip -- Louie Sangalang
11. Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings -- Ralph Cu
12. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters -- Adrian Nocum

Teams started to pass on the third round, initiated by TNT Tropang Giga. By rule, the draft ends when all the teams have already passed regardless of the number of rounds.

1. TerraFirma Dyip -- JB Bahio
2. Blackwater Bossing -- Cliff Jopia
3. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters -- Sherwin Concepcion
4. Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- Matthew Daves
5. NorthPort Batang Pier -- Brent Paraiso
6. NLEX Road Warriors -- Dominick Fajardo
7. Converge FiberXers -- Inand Fornillos
8. Meralco Bolts -- Jolo Mendoza
9. TNT Tropang GIGA -- PASS
10. Magnolia Hotshots -- Patrick Maagdenberg
11. Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings -- Kim Aurin
12. San Miguel Beermen -- Troy Mallillin

All in all, the 2023 Rookie Draft had eleven rounds before wrapping it up. Here are the notable players who made a significant impact in Philippine basketball and were drafted in the succeeding round.

  • Fifth pick of round four -- Fran Yu from Colegio de San Juan de Letran to NorthPort
  • Fifth pick of round five -- John Amores from Jose Rizal University to NorthPort
  • Fourth pick of round six -- Jose Gomez de Liano from University of the Philippines to Phoenix
  • Fourth pick of round nine -- Kyt Jimenez from Perpetual Help University to San Miguel

Here’s the complete list of newly-drafted players from the fourth round down to eleventh and final round:

  • TerraFirma Dyip -- Tommy Olivario
  • Blackwater Bossing -- Archie Concepcion
  • Rain or Shine Elasto Painters -- JC Cullar
  • Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- John Lloyd Clemente
  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- Fran Yu
  • NLEX Road Warriors -- Francis Giussani
  • Converge FiberXers -- King Caralipio
  • Meralco Bolts -- Zach Huang
  • Magnolia Hotshots -- Rey Anthony Peralta
  • Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings -- Franz Abuda
  • San Miguel Beermen -- Jayson Apolonio

  • TerraFirma Dyip -- Damie Cuntapay
  • Blackwater Bossing -- Dariel James Bayla
  • Rain or Shine Elasto Painters -- Larry Arpia Jr.
  • Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- Daniel Atienza
  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- John Amores
  • NLEX Road Warriors -- Renzo Navarro
  • Converge FiberXers -- Rhinwil Yambing
  • Meralco Bolts -- Jessie Sumoda Jr.
  • Magnolia Hotshots -- Warren Bonifacio
  • Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings -- Brandrey Bienes
  • San Miguel Beermen -- Camillus Altamirano

  • TerraFirma Dyip -- Kenneth Villapando
  • Blackwater Bossing -- PASS
  • Rain or Shine Elasto Painters -- PASS
  • Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- Jose Gomez de Liano
  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- Jan Gabriel Sobrevega
  • NLEX Road Warriors -- PASS
  • Converge FiberXers -- Kamron Vigan
  • Meralco Bolts -- Shean Jackson
  • Magnolia Hotshots -- Christian Bunag
  • Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings -- PASS
  • San Miguel Beermen -- John Gob II

  • TerraFirma Dyip -- Jeric Pido
  • Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- Theo Flores
  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- Ian Herrera
  • Converge FiberXers -- Raymond Binuya
  • Meralco Bolts -- PASS
  • Magnolia Hotshots -- PASS
  • San Miguel Beermen -- Jayvee dela Cruz

  • TerraFirma Dyip -- Enrique Caunan
  • Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters -- PASS
  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- Johnnel Bauzon
  • Converge FiberXers -- MJ Garcia
  • San Miguel Beermen -- Jamel Ramos

  • TerraFirma Dyip -- PASS
  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- Joemari Lacastesantos
  • Converge FiberXers -- Andree Flores
  • San Miguel Beermen -- Kyt Jimenez

  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- Nikko Paranada
  • Converge FiberXers -- Jonathan del Rosario
  • San Miguel Beermen -- PASS

  • NorthPort Batang Pier -- Regie Boy Basibas
  • Converge FiberXers -- PASS

Being drafted by any team doesn’t guarantee a professional team contract. The players will still undergo and must pass various rigorous training and tests before receiving either a maximum or minimum rookie contract mandated by the PBA.

For those who haven’t been drafted, there’s still a way for them to join any team by trying out and battling for a roster spot just like Jackson Corpuz and Philip Paniamogan.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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