A new PBA season is upon us.
While the first PBA games will still be played on November 5, PBA Season 48 technically began with this year’s draft. The PBA Season 48 Draft saw a record 128 players apply, 32 more than the previous record of 97 set back in the PBA Season 46 Draft back in 2021. The list was later trimmed to 124, and unfortunately, only 79 were selected (easily the most all-time).
Former NBA G-Leaguer Stephen Holt was the first overall selection by the Terrafirma Dyip, while former UST Growling Tiger Regie Boy Basibas was the final selection made by the NorthPort Batang Pier in the 11th round, which was also a record for most rounds in a PBA Draft.
It remains to be seen how many of them will stick with the teams that drafted them, let alone play meaningful minutes. Undrafted players will of course, find other ways to crack PBA rosters or could join the league in a few years time. All of this certainly invites discussions on league expansion, a topic that has often been brought up, but current circumstances are what you make of it.
With the record turnout, there’s a lot of talent to go around both in terms of quantity and quality. That should give the teams in prime positions the opportunity to strengthen their rosters or as Rain or Shine Elasto Painters head coach Yeng Guaio put it, serve as incubators for other franchises.
The Elasto Painters and the Converge FiberXers, teams that are viewed as relatively autonomous to the San Miguel Corporation and MVP Group teams, arguably had the best selections this year. Rain or Shine selected three frontcourt players in Luis Villegas, Keith Datu, and Henry Galinato with their first three picks in the PBA Draft, adding more depth to a frontcourt that currently has Santi Santillan, Norbert Torres, and Beau Belga. Trading Galinato to the TNT Tropang Giga for a future first-round pick seems like an interesting wrinkle to the Elasto Painters’ draft night, as it sets themselves up to return to the same strategy in a couple of years.
Meanwhile, the FiberXers got former DLSU Green Archer Schonny Winston with the ninth overall selection, a great find considering Winston was in the conversation for one of the top-two picks. He’ll fit in well with Converge following the reported departure of Maverick Ahanmisi, who will join the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. Getting BJ Andrade of course adds depth to their backcourt and there should be no pressure for him as he works his way back from a left ACL tear.
It’s tough to really say much about the Dyip or the Blackwater Bossing, both of whom held the two of the top three picks in the last six editions of the PBA Draft. Their top talents are usually sent away faster than you can spell Terrafirma or Blackwater, leaving them drained of talent and wins. Holt and Christian David are intriguing prospects who can contribute to Terrafirma and the Bossing, respectively, but how long will it be until we see them in different jerseys?
Drafts like this are fun to follow both now and in a few years down the road. Aside from where everyone else ends up, it’ll be interesting to see how the careers of some of these players pan out. Not a lot will talk about it, but how David, Andrade, Villegas, Zavier Lucero will bounce back from their injuries (or in David’s case, injury history) should make for a great narrative.
The PBA is at a crossroads, but a draft like this could inject new life into the league, if things work out. There are a lot of issues that still need to be addressed, but at least for one night, we saw some players realize their basketball dreams and with it, the championship aspirations of some franchises.