First of all, check this out!
I am not going to say what this is all about. All you need to do is like at the side-by-side difference and the number next to the player.
And yeah, I disregarded the Gilas round players at some points of this comparison to further accentuate my point.
2021 NBA DRAFT AND 2021 PBA DRAFT (SEASON 46) COMPARISON
CADE CUNNINGHAM | 21
JOSHUA MUNZON | 28
JALEN GREEN | 21
JAMIE MALONZO | 27
EVAN MOBLEY | 22
CALVIN OFTANA | 27
SCOTTIE BARNES | 22
MIKEY WILLIAMS | 31
JALEN SUGGS | 22
SANTI SANTILLAN | 27
2020 NBA DRAFT AND 2019 PBA DRAFT COMPARISON
ANTHONY EDWARDS | 22
ROOSEVELT ADAMS | 29
JAMES WISEMAN | 22
MAURICE SHAW | 38
LAMELO BALL | 22
MIKE AYONAYON | 30
PATRICK WILLIAMS | 22
BARKLEY EBONA | 26
ISAAC OKORO | 22
ADRIAN WONG | 27
2019 NBA DRAFT AND 2018 PBA DRAFT COMPARISON
ZION WILLIAMSON | 23
CJ PEREZ | 29
JA MORANT | 24
BOBBY RAY PARKS | 30
RJ BARRETT | 23
ROBERT BOLICK | 28
DE'ANDRE HUNTER | 25
PAUL DESIDERIO | 26
DARIUS GARLAND | 23
TREVIS JACKSON | 28
2018 NBA DRAFT AND 2017 PBA DRAFT COMPARISON
DEANDRE AYTON | 25
CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER | 34
MARVIN BAGLEY | 24
KIEFER RAVENA | 29
LUKA DONCIC | 24
RAYMAR JOSE | 31
JAREN JACKSON JR | 24
JASON PERKINS | 31
TRAE YOUNG | 25
JERON TENG | 29
2017 NBA DRAFT AND 2016 PBA DRAFT COMPARISON (MY PERCEIVED TOP 5)
MARKELLE FULTZ | 25
MAC BELO | 30
LONZO BALL | 25
MATTHEW WRIGHT | 32
JAYSON TATUM | 25
KEVIN FERRER | 30
JOSH JACKSON | 26
RUSSEL ESCOTO | 30
DE'AARON FOX | 25
JIO JALALON | 31
NOTE: I chose the second round order of the 2016 PBA Draft. In some ways, except for TNT acquiring RR Pogoy, this is an acceptable draft order.
Anyway, did you like what you saw?
From the 2021 NBA Draft and the Season 46 PBA Draft, I took the Top 5 players and compared them until the NBA's current oldest player meets the age of the PBA's youngest player.
It's insane to realize that Josh Jackson, who is currently 26 years old and the fourth pick overall in the 2017 NBA Draft is the same age as Barkley Ebona, the youngest Top 5 player in the PBA Draft for the last five drafts at 26 years old.
What's more insane here is that there are only seven Top 5 NBA players who are 25 years old and older. Mind you, most of these NBA players have multiple seasons at this point. Meanwhile, Kiefer Ravena just turned 24 years old when the 2017 PBA Draft happened.
And here's a cool fact: Terrence Romeo is entering his tenth year in the PBA and he turned 31 last March.
STEPHEN HOLT IS ALREADY 31!!!
I brought this up because we have Andy Gemao has left for the United States to score a spot in a big-time high school. The Letran Squire helped his team end a 22-year championship drought during NCAA Season 98. Gemao faced off against the LSGH's Twin Towers comprised of Seven Gagate and NCAA S98 Juniors MVP Luis Pablo.
Gemao is only 17 years old.
But then again, this is a bad example.
Let's look into Gagate and Pablo.
Both players have turned their green jerseys to maroon kits - as they are expected to eventually launch the UP Fighting Maroons to championship greatness.
With that said...
... both Gagate and Pablo are already 19 years old.
This is basically the age of most Top 5 NBA Draft picks.
San Beda's Chris Hubilla, Perpetual's Amiel Acido, and Lyceum's Matthew Rubico finish off NCAA Season 98's Mythical 5. The 20-year-old Hubilla is committed to UP (which spells bad news for the rest of the UAAP) and Rubico is moving to the DLSU Green Archers. The 18-year-old Acido's situation as per online reports is that he's on the verge of getting his American citizenship. Meanwhile, UAAP Season 85 Juniors MVP Reinhard Jumamoy of the NU Bullpups is 19 in 2023 and is sending his talents to the Seniors squad. Rhyle Melencio, a third-generation baller whose granddad is former Olympian Tembong Melencio (and his dad is former UST Growling Tiger Richard Melencio), is 19 and will continue with the DLSU program. FEU's Janrey Pasaol is only 18. UPIS' Kobe Demisana is also 18 and is with the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Kristian Porter, who saw action for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA U18 Asia Championship in 2022, just turned 18 last July.
A couple of months ago, reigning PBA MVP Scottie Thompson was able to complete his business administration course in Perpetual Help. This September, Troy Rosario finally finished his Management course at NU.
In the current NCAA season, PBA draftees JL Delos Santos, Enoch Valdez, Warren Bonifacio, Clifford Jopia, Damie Cuntapay, and Jessie Sumoda, as well as unsuccessful PBA draft applicants Romel Calahat and Rafael Are are set to finish their NCAA season before moving to the PBA or MPBL.
I really think the PBA needs to exploit this. As it stands, the Philippines doesn't have a Division A and Division B system. Moreover, every year, it feels like the PBA rookies are getting older. With the amount of talent and appreciation we have for basketball, education is getting in the way.
Maybe they can employ a one-and-done college drafting system for the incoming rookies? A PBA team can either hold on to their rights and let them focus on their studies and let them play college basketball if they have no roster spots to offer them and if they are that good, they can just play in the pro league provided that they can finish their studies in an X amount of years. I know teams and players will exploit this, but this is for the greater good. If there is one thing the 2023 PBA Draft has taught us, it's the fact that PBA teams would rather look for character than an extensive amount of experience.
If the NBA is now the newest endgame for Filipino players, with the opportunity to become global imports being the more realistic choice, then why are we still waiting for our players to play in the MPBL, FilBasket, PSL, and the PBA D-League? I know education is important for us, Filipinos but aside from our obvious handicaps that make every global signing a shocking one, why is age added to lack of size and lack of international praise? Why can't they just go straight to the PBA rather than toil in the smaller leagues?
In some ways, this is a less disheartening way of waiting for the next step to get elevated. In the 2023 PBA Draft, 46 players were left unsigned. Joining Calahat and Are are their SSC-R teammate Jessie Sumoda and Mapua main man Warren Bonifacio. With the PBA season opening in the middle of the NCAA season, Valdez, Delos Santos, Jopia, and Cuntapay can be great reserve guys especially since the league is going to start with an import-backed tourney.
While conditioning, desire, and talent are factors as to why they are in this predicament, what if there was a chance for them to be big-time PBA stars if only they applied earlier? OR what if they could have been top stars now if only they had the chance to train with the pros a la PBA On Tour?
And oh, I almost ended the blog in that last paragraph but I just remembered the Jopia and Cuntapay were also on the tour alongside Peter Alfaro and JV Gallego. Did they get a chance to experience PBA action? Well, yes and no. If you're talking about the SMC teams, then it's a no. With that said teams like Terrafirma, Phoenix, Blackwater, and Converge played the tournament with their top guys and nothing helps a potential player like learning the trade from the best players.
Josh Jackson, the aforementioned oldest NBA player in this situation, is already labeled as a disappointment and is entering his sixth NBA season after playing for four different NBA teams (as well as their G-League affiliates.)
And here we are, looking at a player's "potential" at the same age as the NBA has already given up on their potential superstar status.