FOUR players who began their amateur basketball careers in Davao City are among the 128 hopefuls gearing up for the upcoming PBA rookie draft scheduled at Robinsons Manila on Sunday, September 17.
These players include Dariel James Manalo Bayla, a former standout from John Paul II College of Davao; Renzo Devera Galdo and Lean Martel, both from Holy Cross of Davao College (HCDC) Crusaders; and Darrel Gabi Manliguez, who previously played for Mats College of Technology.
In a Facebook interview with SunStar Davao, former HCDC Crusaders coach Isaias Gravador Jr. expressed his pride in his former players, stating: "First of all, whatever will be the result of the draft, I am very proud of them, and they are already winners."
Gravador said that he coached Galdo and Martel for approximately two years until Martel moved to Manila and Galdo to Cebu after graduation. Reflecting on their playing styles, Gravador added, "Last time nako sila nagunitan (The last time I handled them), I remember Martel as a good rebounder because of his leaping ability. He runs fast for his size. Galdo, meanwhile, can play the wing. He can shoot 3s and penetrate," Gravador said.
According to him, Martel was also part of the Davao City men's basketball team that won the delegation's only gold medal in the 2016 BIMP-Eaga Games held in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Bayla reportedly moved to Arellano University after his stint with JPIICD, while Manliguez, who hails from Makilala, North Cotabato, plays in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
Martel wrote on his Facebook post: "Testingan basin kaluy-an (Trying my luck, hoping for mercy)! #80." He was initially listed as No. 80 on the released draft list.
Former University of the Philippines (UP) standouts Ricci Rivero and Zavier Lucero headline the draft prospects, adding a touch of maroon magic to the mix of 31 Fil-foreign talents. Among them are PBA 3×3 sensations Brandon Bates and Keith Datu.
The draft pool also features standout players like Schonny Winston, Fran Yu, Ken Tuffin, Kim Aurin, Raffy Verano, James Kwekuteye, Luis Villegas, Kemark Carino, Sherwin Concepcion, Cade Flores, and John Lloyd Clemente.
Nard John Pinto (Ginebra), Baser Amer (Blackwater), and Alvin Pasaol (Meralco Bolts) are among the ex-Davao players still active in the big league along with Gryann Mendoza, who plays for the TNT Tropang Giga 3X3 team.
Former University of Mindanao (UM) Wildcats player Peter June (PJ) Simon of Magnolia Hotshots retired a few years ago. MLSA