04 November 2013

Who Are the Bolt's Picks?

Meralco Bolt's Picks
Too much hype were put in describing the basketball prowess and potential game-changing performance of 7-foot center Greg Slaughter who was selected first overall by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the 2013 Draft, 6-8 San Sebastian big man Ian Sangalang who was picked second and Rain or Shine reed-thin draft center Raymond Almazan of Letran who rounded the top three.

Lost in the shuffle, wheeling, dealing and backstage negotiations is Meralco Bolts' own draftees who were all selected from the Third round to the Seventh Round. Who are these PBA hopefuls? Do they have what it takes to get a crack at the almost complete line-up of the Bolts?

Let's take a look at what they have achieved so far in their young career.

PG, 5'7"
San Beda College
Third Round

Anjo Caram initially thought that because of his height, he will never enter collegiate basketball. Howveer, after recruited by the scouting staff of San Beda led by former PBA player Bong Ravena, he slowly gained confidence as a point guard in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

With his quickness and ball handling skills, coupled with hard work, the Iloilo native has definitely made his mark in the Red Lion's den.

"I really want to play for a school here in Manila. It has been my dream since I was a kid. My mother and father were former varsity players at their schools in Iloilo so it's probably in the genes. I started playing around seven years old until I became part of the varsity team when I was in grade 4,” Anjo relates.

After every team practice, Anjo makes sure to spend extra minutes on the court to practice some more on his own, shooting from different angles. Outside of basketball, he mostly spends his time hanging out with his teammates and focusing on his studies.

During the 87th Season of the NCAA, Caram played for 21 games and averaging 17.3 minutes, 1.5 rebounds, 3.1 assist and 6.1 points per game. A year later, he improved his numbers slight by averaging 27.0 minutes, 2.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 8.0 points per game.

PF, 6'4"
Mapua Institute of Technology
Fourth Round

Mike Parala has once been a fringe player for Mapua Cardinals in Season 87 with an average of only 4.8 points per game. It all changed a year later after a dedicated practice and relentless self-conditioning.

The lanky big man from Cabuyao, Laguna has emphasized his emergence as an offensive threat for Mapua in Season 88 by averaging 14.7 points through nine games.

According to hoopsnut.com, Parala might be the Justin Chua of the 2013 Draft hopefuls. They were impressed with his average of 13.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game.

"That's a near double-double with one block to boot! Why do I think that had he played for a more matunog program that he would actually have better draft stock this season? Though Parala played center for the Cardinals, I think the 25 year-old will slide down to PF in the pros. This is because there are just too many quality slotmen right now, and at around 6'4-6'5, he will really need to learn to play as a 4," the site says.

SG, 6'0"
University of the Philippines
Fifth Round

As 2006 came to a close, a number of players from FEU-FERN came to UP on their own to try out for the Men's Basketball Team. One of them was Mark Lopez, a blue chip player and a member of UAAP Season 69 mythical team in the juniors division. It turned out that Lopez, along with a couple of junior players from FEU-FERN were intended by the school’s management become future Tamaraws.

To protect its "interests", FEU officials forged an agreement with their counterparts from UP to prevent the exodus of their junior players to Diliman. Lopez was able to secure the release of his high school papers after securing "permission" from FEU officials and settling a PhP 15,000 fee.

It is not certain if Lopez regretted his decision after UP fared poorly in their winless campaign. One thing is sure though, Lopez had impressed some scouts after averaging 23.7 minutes per outing in 21 games and producing 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assist, 1.2 steals and 8.4 points during the UAAP Season 75.

When he first played for the FEU-FERN in the UAAP’s Juniors ranks, Lopez is one of the most physically imposing 6-footers around with agreat skill-set. He has the height to match-up with most Shooting Guards, the speed to harass opposing Point Guards, and has good enough handles to bring down the basketball.

He definitely won't have any problems running after, or fighting through screens to cover, the other team’s shooters. He can also drive to the hole and is a decent shot from distance. Lopez’s motor actually has several similarities with that of Calvin Abueva's, and if Lopez can round out the rough edges in his game, then he can become an Energizer Bunny-type of player.

PF, 6'3"
Far Eastern University
Seventh Round

Mark Bringas did not really have eye-popping and impressive numbers in his last two seasons with FEU (74 and 75) – just a combined 3 points, 3 rebounds, and not much else in just over 10 minutes per outing. What he lacks in production, however, he more than makes up for in bravado and the degree of hurt he can lay down on opposing forwards. He is not considered as a game-changing type of player, and nobody will think he ever will be. However, with the proper mindset, and given the proper situation, some analysts think he can be a long-time enforcer in the PBA.

One other that Bringas is known for is that is the final player to be tabbed in the biggest - and perhaps deepest - draft pool ever in the 39-year history of the PBA. The burly forward was chosen by Meralco as the 44th and last pick out of the record 79 rookie hopefuls who made themselves available in the draft proceedings that served as the league's first official order of business for the new season.

The elder brother of controversial player Arvie Bringas was the lone player selected in the seventh and final round after nine teams earlier passed on their respective picks.

Until his name was finally called by commissioner Chito Salud, Bringas admitted losing a little bit of his self-esteem.

"Parang nawawalan na ako ng tiwala sa sarili ko nung hindi pa ako tinatawag," he told Spin.ph shortly after the draft at Robinsons Place in Ermita. "Kaya sobrang saya ko nung narinig ko ang pangalan ko."

Despite being the Bolt's last pick this season, Bringas is aware that his future is not yet secure.

"Actually, hindi naman sigurado ako or `yung iba pa kung makaka-pirma. So lahat may chance pa rin. Pagbubutihan ko na lang para mapansin pa rin ako ng Meralco," he added.

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