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2023 PBA DRAFT (SEASON 48) | WINNERS AND LOSERS




I asked ChatGPT to help me determine the biggest winners and losers of the 2023 PBA Draft.


The A.I. kept giving me excuses that his PBA knowledge wasn't as up-to-date.


With that said, I asked him for a criteria and he gave me five helpful things to determine who got it best and who got it worst.


Of course, the teams that picked first got the best players. These players were selected by the team because they are the best option available or they fit the needs of the team. These teams also had a field day in the draft - either claiming quality players or creating a pool that could contain a couple of talent goldmines.


Of course, there are also steals.


Now, I really can't say Peter June Simon is a steal because, by the time Purefoods signed him, he was already a top star in the MBA and in the PBL. I do however would label Ato Agustin as a steal because all six teams, including San Miguel, snubbed him until he was selected 12th overall or the last player picked in the second round. While all eyes were locked on Bobby Jose, here is Ato Agustin, making the best out of San Miguel's injuries during his rookie year.


And finally, their draft strategy. Some teams picked quality over quantity while some picked based on their gut. There are others who pick so they can "sell" them to other squads while some are using these players as projects in case of injury, retirement, and if a disgruntled player wants to bolt out to Korea or Japan.


Anyway, here is how I ranked the teams.


And yeah, I took a lot of images here from other sites. Thank you, GMA, Tiebreaker Times, Smart, Rappler, and One Sports!



THE GAME STARTS NOW!




12 | TNT TROPANG GIGA

HENRY GALINATO

(ACQUIRED FROM RAIN OR SHINE)


All it takes is one good transaction. Yes, I really thought TNT made a bad move when they decided to act "cool" and snub the draft process altogether but to be honest, all they need to do is to act like a vulture or a hyena and get the unwanted scraps from the other teams.


AJ Benson and Romel Calahat in the undrafted pool? Yes, please! King Caralipio, JC Cullar, Damie Cuntapay, Joe Gomez de Liano, Renzo Navarro, or Nikko Paranada barely making the roster of the teams that drafted them? HOW ABOUT PRACTICING IN TNT!!!


With that said, it feels like Chot Reyes has set his sights on the UP Fighting Maroon even before the draft. With Poy Erram and Justin Chua nursing injuries, sending their first-round pick away for a potential starting center makes sense for TNT.


But yeah, with one rookie, they are down on the list. Again, with 124 applicants, they chose to act "cool" and snub the draft process. The last time a team blanked a PBA Draft was during the two-round era and the one where Kia and Blackwater went "one-to-sawa" with their picks... that's just due to technicality!




11 | MAGNOLIA HOTSHOTS

33 - PATRICK MAAGDENBERG

55 - WARREN BONIFACIO

44 - REY PERALTA

63- CHRISTIAN BUNAG


Magnolia is one of these teams that can live without the PBA Draft and the 2023 version is no exception. Pat Maagdenberg looks like a bruiser in his position but he is not a game changer. Actually, Magnolia's championship woes are more because of luck than lack of talent. I consider Warren Bonifacio a steal at 55. When Bonifacio led the Mapua Cardinals to the NCAA 97 Finals, it felt as if he was channeling his inner Alvin Patrimonio. Still playing for the Mapua Cardinals, he could score a spot if he does well, especially with the Hotshots in need of help in the frontline. With that said, they also acquired Abu Tratter from Converge and like I said, Magnolia is one team that can let the draft go by.




10 | BARANGAY GINEBRA KINGS

23 - RALPH CU

45 - FRANZ ABUDA

34 - KIM AURIN

56 - BRANDREY BIENES


There is nothing game-changing about the picks Ginebra got other than rewarding Ralph Cu and Kim Aurin for their loyalty. Also, I think Franz Abuda and Olsen Racela are close, judging by how the former San Miguel playmaker called his name.


It felt like a Ninong teasing his inaanak.


Anyway, aside from playing in their 3X3 squad, Cu and Aurin played well in the PBA On-Tour tournament. While they could help strengthen the lineup, especially with the injuries to LA Tenorio, Jeremiah Gray, and Jamie Malonzo, all eyes are on newly acquired Gin, Maverick Ahanmisi.




9 | MERALCO BOLTS

8 - BRANDON BATES

54 - JESSIE SUMODA

32 - JOLO MENDOZA

62 - SHEAN JACKSON

43 - ZACHARY HUANG


Brandon Bates is going to add size to Meralco, especially with the retirement of Reynel Hugnatan. With that said, I guess Jolo Mendoza and Zach Huang can help in the small forward positions. I hope this is the season in which we can see the improvements in Alvin Pasaol's gameplay as well as the return of Chris Banchero's scoring. Other than Bates, I don't really get why Meralco decided to go for those players.


But hey, this is a new era with Luigi Trillo at the helm. I don't know what the future brings but if the Bolts can shop a couple of their players they might become competitive.




8 | SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN

35 - TROY MALLILLIN

69 - JAYVEE DELA CRUZ

46 - JAYSON APOLONIO

73 - JAMEL RAMOS

57 - ICHIE ALTAMIRANO

76 - KYT JIMENEZ

64 - JBOY GOB


San Miguel is the last team to pick in the draft and I guess their strategy is to get the players they'd think would fit their 3X3 squad. Looking at the SMB lineup, they might be contenders but for some reason, they can't fill a 15-man crew. While Troy Mallillin is an MPBL star, the Beermen need to find a way to exploit Kyt Jimenez's star power. Kyt is a good asset to exploit especially for SMB commercials. Inside the court, he can bring the same thing the late Joey Mente once brought to the Beermen - which is an exciting guard when packed with intensity when they rest their starters in the second quarter.





7 | NLEX ROAD WARRIORS

7 - RICHARD RODGER

30 - DOMINICK FAJARDO

18 - ENOCH VALDEZ

41 - FRANCIS GIUSSANI

21 - JM NERMAL

52 - RENZO NAVARRO


I don't really get NLEX's strategy in the draft. While I am not familiar with Richard Rodger during his UE days, I know what Enoch Valdez brings to the table. He is like a CJ Perez clone that is more athletic. Getting teammate Renzo Navarro is also a good thing, although I wonder if the pass-first guard can break a spot. NLEX also did a Ginebra by bringing Dominick Fajardo and Francis Giussani back into their fold. Getting Fajardo at 30 is a scary gamble for the Road Warriors especially since they could have taken JM Nermal in the later rounds. Fajardo is one of the players that exploded in the PBA On-Tour tournament and with the departure of JR Quinahan, I expect NLEX to look for other ways to bolster their frontline.




6 | BLACKWATER BOSSING

2 - CHRISTIAN DAVID

37- ARCHIE CONCEPCION

20 - JAMES KWEKUTEYE

48 - DARIEL BAYLA

26 - CLIFF JOPIA


We have seen Blackwater mess up the draft. They took Juami Tiongson as their first-ever pick and after a conference, they sent him back to the PBA D-League. And then, they fed Moala Tautuaa, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, and Bobby Ray Parks to the MVP teams. Also, they were conned by Maurice Shaw! This made me worry about them when they decided to select Christian David. I really thought he was picked too early. The Butler also had injury issues these past few years. With that said, at least the team got James Kwekuteye, Cliff Jopia, and Archie Concepcion. These players can also add depth and size to the squad. Kwek in particular, is a steal at the 20th spot.





5 | PHOENIX FUEL MASTERS

6 - KEN TUFFIN

39 - JOHN LLOYD CLEMENTE

16 - RAFFY VERANO

50 - DANIEL ATIENZA

17 - RICCI RIVERO

59 - JOE GOMEZ DE LIANO

28 - MATTHEW DAVES

66 - THEO FLORES


Phoenix solved a lot of their issues when they got a scorer like Ken Tuffin, a bruiser like Raffy Verano, a key bench find in Matthew Daves, and a potential steal in Joe Gomez de Liano (if he makes the squad). With that said, they got a very good steal in Ricci Rivero. In some ways, going down to 17th is a good thing because he's going to enter the PBA with lessened expectations. The loss of Matthew Wright, Encho Serrano, and Kurt Lojera will open opportunities for him. And for Tuffin, I guess it's time for him to prove his critics wrong. If he plays like an import, then the Fuel Masters will be hella competitive this season.





4 | RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS

3 - LUIS VILLEGAS

27 - SHERWIN CONCEPCION

4 - KEITH DATU

38 - JC CULLAR

15 - HENRY GALINATO

(TRADED TO TNT)

49 - LARRY ARPIA

24 - ADRIAN NOCUM


Rain or Shine started the draft with three big men - eventually trading Henry Galinato for a possible diamond in the 2024 PBA Draft. Despite the departure of the former UP Fighting Maroon, Yeng Guiao was able to acquire Luis Villegas and Keith Datu. The only imposing big man they have at the moment is Beau Belga, so having Villegas and Datu makes sense. I also like the selection of Adrian Nocum. The former Mapua Cardinal is also an MPBL All-Star, playing for the San Juan Knights. The fact that this kid is consistently getting his numbers against the men of MPBL and the kids of NCAA is a good thing. Sherwin Concepcion and JC Cullar are also good players who can help young Elasto Painters.




3 | CONVERGE FIBERXERS

9 - SCHONNY WINSTON

53 - RHINWIL YAMBING

10 - BJ ANDRADE

61 - KAMRON FLEMING

14 - BRYAN SANTOS

68 - RAYMOND BINUYA

19 - JL DELOS SANTOS

72 - MJ GARCIA

31 - INAND FORNILOS

75 - ANDREE FLORES

42 - KING CARALIPIO

78- JONATHAN DEL ROSARIO


Schonny Winston is without a doubt a STEAL at the ninth spot because I had him pegged as a Top 3 guy. However, I couldn't help but think that BJ Andrade is just a way to appease Danny Ildefonso. As you know, Demolition Danny came out of retirement to claim a rebound in 2023. I don't know if he is still part of their staff, but I really think Converge could have gotten him in the later rounds especially since he's recovering from an injury. And just because they had 12 picks doesn't mean they got quality. Reigning NCAA Mythical 5 and Finals MVP King Caralipio is a STEAL at number 42 but while they may have seen something with Bryan Santos, JL Delos Santos, and Inand Fornilos, again, there's that possibility that they might have missed on a couple of talents. With that said, the departures of Jeron Teng and Maverick Ahanmisi have opened up slots in Converge.



2 | NORTHPORT BATANG PIER

5 - ZAVIER LUCERO

67 - IAN HERRERA

11 - CADE FLORES

71 - JOHNNEL BAUZON

29 - BRENT PARAISO

74 - JOEMARI LACASTESANTOS

40 - FRAN YU

77 - NIKKO PARANADA

51 - JOHN AMORES

79 - REGIE BOY BASIBAS

60 - JAN SOBREVEGA

I like these picks. Again, Northport concentrated on the NCAA/UST/Letran treasure chest but lucked out on Zavier Lucero. I have said this in my previous blog but I think Cade Flores is the NCAA's version of Lucero (albeit muscular). The only problem with keeping Flores and Lucero is that they also have Arwind Santos, Arvin Tolentino, and JM Calma. Northport had the same problem at the start of last season when they had Santos, Calma, and Jamie Malonzo. These guys are all stretch combo forwards and the only drawback in this draft for me is that they failed to solve their center problem.


While Fran Yu was visibly pissed at his coach when they took him at 40, it felt as if there was an understanding between the rest of the teams that the former NCAA Finals MVP was going to Northport regardless of circumstance. And if Northport had "dibs" on Yu, then they had the right idea to select all the players they could get like Letran's Brent Paraiso. I've said in past blogs that Paraiso is PBA-ready and is going to make the best out of the situation. With that said, when Terrafirma chose Olivario over Yu, that meant Northport had to pick Mr. Fran-tastic, with the talent already dwindling. But then, Northport scored another goldmine in John Amores. Yes, Amores has a reputation but he is far from the bruiser figure that we see. I can feel Rudy Distrito's vibes in his gameplay. I know The Destroyer is known for his elbows and the thing he did to Jeffrey Cariaso but he is also a Top 100 PBA player with a double-digit career scoring average.


So yeah, Northport has five great additions to their lineup and hopefully, they won't turn these stars over to the big SMC squads.







1 | TERRAFIRMA DYIP

1 - STEPHEN HOLT

36 - TOMMY OLIVARIO

12 - TJ MILLER

47 - DAMIE CUNTAPAY

13 - KEMARK CARINO

58 - KENNETH VILLAPANDO

22 - LOUIE SANGALANG

65 - JERIC PIDO

25 - JB BAHIO

70 - ENRIQUE CAUNAN


I guess of all the teams in the draft, I thought Terrafirma drafted best. Part of me thinks that Stephen Holt will be playing for another team... or league... or retiring in three years so having a backup Fil-Am in TJ Miller is a good choice.


Who in the blue hell is TJ Miller though?




The 2023 PBA Draft had its share of Fil-Am shockers and it's been a while since we saw a player of Mark Caguioa-like awesomeness.


Look, if he turns out to be good, then expect Terrafirma to make a run in the Philippine Cup because they have two Fil-Ams and a slew of NCAA all-stars in their lineup. In some ways, Johnedel Cardel exceeded expectations in the sense that they finally did something right in the draft.


Kemark Carino, Louie Sangalang, and JB Bahio are all great players in the NCAA (and in other international leagues in the case of Kemark). I just saw Kenneth Villapando do well in the MPBL and while he's a sixth pick, he does bring a lot of good things as an athletic defender. And then there's Tommy Olivario, Damie Cuntapay, and Jeric Pido - three players with NCAA Finals experience (Olivario had three NCAA rings) and can be good bench upgrades as well. The thing about Terrafirma is that they literally drafted a team and in some ways, these players can help elevate the franchise.







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