EVERYBODY, including this former West Negros University (WNU) Mustang slotman, was surprised and stunned after being chosen as the number 1 overall pick of this year's Philippine Basketball Association Annual Draft at the Market! Market! in Taguig City.
The 23-year-old, 6-foot-4 forward Siverino "Nonoy" Baclao Jr. upstaged his Ateneo teammate Rabeh Al-Hussaini, after incoming PBA commissioner Atty. Rudy Salud called his name as Air 21 Express' top choice.
The 6-foot-7 Al-Hussaini, was Express' second choice followed by former Letran small forward Rey Guevarra at No.3.
Baclao was searching words when interviewed by sportswriters. "I don't know what to say," said Baclao. "I didn't expect to be chosen No.1, because people thought it's going to be Rabeh. But I'm thankful to be picked No.1."
Baclao, who was born June 15, 1987, used to play for the Blue Eagles from 2007 to 2009 when he led the team's back-to-back championships during the last two seasons and in the Philippine Patriots in the ASEAN Basketball League.
Baclao attended high school and his first few years of college at WNU, where he led the Mustangs to the 2005 National University Games (Unigames) crown in Bacolod and the 2006 Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) National Students Championship (Inter-Collegiate) title. In 2006 he was recruited by AdMU after Manila-based college scouts noticed his capability as a major defensive contributor, especially in blocking and rebounding.
After serving the mandatory one-year residency rule by the UAAP, Baclao made it to the Blue Eagles roster in the 2007 UAAP season where he contributed much to the team's defense however failed to make it to the Finals.
In 2008, he became the team's co-captain, which he held until his last year as Blue Eagle. In those last two seasons, he played a major role in the team as they won over their archrival De La Salle Green Archers in the 2008 UAAP Basketball championships. He was then adjudged as the Finals MVP and the Smart Defensive Player of the Year.
In his final UAAP season, Baclao shared the team's leadership with teammate Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Jai Reyes to successfully defend their title against the University of the East Red Warriors.