2020 PBA SEASON ROOKIES | FIRST IMPRESSIONS




It feels like the 2019 PBA Draft is a bad class – especially if you consider their debut outings.

I am not knocking on their talents but... if the eighteenth pick of the draft outscored the combined output of the second and third picks... then there must be something wrong.

The 2019 draft class combines college stars, Fil-Am prospects, and MPBL standouts. While it’s hard to judge a draft class based on their first game, Axe deo-cologne for men has thought us that “first impressions, last”.

From March to October 13, here are the rookies that made their debut in the 2020-21 PBA season.






WENDELL COMBOY | SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 2 PICK 23 | RAIN OR SHINE

0 points in 27 seconds

The former FEU standout made his debut during the season’s pre-ECQ period and subsequently, the first rookie to play in the 2020-21 PBA season. With that said, Comboy only played in 27 seconds – when the game is out of hand. While yeah, playing for San Miguel is an arduous task… but it’s better to be the only rookie in a title-hungry squad than to be the sixth rookie in Rain or Shine.

And yeah, San Miguel faced Rain or Shine in their first game in the bubble and Comboy failed to log a single second. More on this later.

KIB MONTALBO | TNT TROPANG GIGA

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 11 | TNT

0 points, two rebounds, and two steals in almost 26 minutes

The eleventh pick of the 2019 PBA Draft, he ranked fourth in the team in minutes played against the Alaska Aces. He even got more time than Troy Rosario. With that said, he failed to hit the rim in five tries. The former DLSU guard also had two rebounds and two steals amidst three turnovers.

BARKLEY EBONA | ALASKA ACES

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 4 | ALASKA

Four points, four rebounds, and one assist in almost 16 minutes

Another former FEU Tamaraw, the fourth pick overall of the 2019 PBA Draft actually had a good debut for the Aces. Tallying four and four, Barkley Ebona could be a sleeper pick for top rookie leading the way for the talent-starved squad – especially since Jeff Cariaso is still checking out his options.

JAYCEE MARCELINO | ALASKA ACES

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 2 PICK 17 | ALASKA

Five points and one rebound in over 8 minutes

The Lyceum guard barely saw action in Alaska’s loss as he just got into the court for more than seven minutes. With that said, Jaycee Marcelino did score five points (of 2-for-2 shooting) and also had a rebound. Hopefully, he can have a prominent role despite playing behind Jayvee Casio, Maverick Ahanmisi, Abel Galliguez, and Mike DiGregorio.

MIKE AYONAYON | NLEX ROAD WARRIORS

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 3 | NLEX

Two points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block in over 12 minutes

Living proof of how the MPBL can help Philippine basketball, the former PCU Dolphin struggled in his first game in the pros. Aside from getting schooled by LA Tenorio in one possession, Mike Ayonayon when 1-for-8 in the field including three missed triples. He did clear all five major statistical categories – registering 1s across the board.

ARVIN TOLENTINO | BARANGAY GINEBRA KINGS

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 10 | GINEBRA

Five points, two rebounds, and one block in almost 18 minutes

The former FEU big man had a good debut for the crowd favorites. Getting the nod to start with Japeth Aguilar slowly getting into the groove, Arvin Tolentino had five points, two rebounds, and a block for the Kings. Sure, he’s no Greg Slaughter but given Ginebra’s depleted frontcourt, something may be in the works for Arvin Tolentino.

JERRICK BALANZA | BARANGAY GINEBRA KINGS

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 2 PICK 13 | GINEBRA

0 points in 2 minutes

Jerrick Balanza made waves in Letran but Ginebra has this knack of ruining most of the shooting guards they drafted. While it’s too early to tell at the moment, debuting in just two minutes… and playing behind Jared Dillinger and Jeff Chan could be disastrous for Balanza’s rookie campaign.




AARON BLACK | MERALCO BOLTS

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 2 PICK 18 | MERALCO

Six points and three assists in almost 13 minutes

Aaron Black is yes, the son of the great Norman Black – who is also the coach of the Meralco Bolts. And while nepotism could be a good term as to why he logged a good load of minutes, there is no question that Black held his own in his first game. Perhaps the only thing that sucks in his debut is that Meralco opened the season with a route. At one point, Phoenix led as much as 29 points during the first three quarters. A typical Meralco season will have the Bolts struggling in All-Filipino and then turn savage with the entry of Allen Durham. Will history repeat itself?

MAURICE SHAW | BLACKWATER BOSSING

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 2 | BLACKWATER

Two points and two rebounds in almost 11 minutes

If there’s one player that got a lot of hype during the preseason, it’s this guy. Maurice Shaw entered the draft as a 36-year-old former import. He has played on three continents and had a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters. With that said, Shaw only played sparingly and in Blackwater’s win, was only good for two points and two rebounds. He’s probably working for a bounce-back game against the Greg Slaughter-less Barangay Ginebra.

SEAN MANGANTI | NORTHPORT BATANG PIER

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 8 | NORTHPORT

Three points, three rebounds, and two blocks in 17 minutes

I have never really seen him play in the UAAP but the Adamson Soaring Falcon actually had a good debut despite Northport’s loss. Sure, Manganti finished with just three points and a 16 percent clip from the three-point area. He did, however, caromed three rebounds and also had two blocked shots. With Robert Bolick and Jonathan Grey still out of commission, Manganti needs to step up to get more minutes.

RENZO SUBIDO | NORTHPORT BATANG PIER

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 2 PICK 24 | NORTHPORT

Three points, one rebound, and one assist in 10 minutes

The former UST guard must hate the drama his school had a couple of months ago but at least Tomasino Love is overflowing in the Northport camp. Batang Pier lost to Blackwater but at least Renzo Subido finished with a triple, a rebound, and a dime.

ADRIAN WONG | RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 5 | RAIN OR SHINE

0 points, one rebound, and one assist in 12 minutes

Caloy Garcia preferred to use Adrian Wong and Clint Doliguez over Prince Rivero and Vince Tolentino and unfortunately, the former Ateneo spitfire missed all of his four attempts which included three triples. Overloaded with talent, I guess Wong would take a backseat to the other rookies in their next game.

CLINT DOLIGUEZ | RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 6 | RAIN OR SHINE

Two points, one assist, and one steal in 4 minutes

The former San Beda King Lion only played four minutes for the Elasto Painters but basically, he finished with the stuffed stat line. Hopefully, Clint Doliguez can prove his worth in Rain or Shine’s next outing although as mentioned in the Adrian Wong part, Rain or Shine could use the next game to debut Rivero and Vince Tolentino.




DANIEL DE GUZMAN | SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 4 PICK 42 | SAN MIGUEL

0 points in 3 minutes

Getting to play in the PBA despite a fourth-round selection is a feat in itself. It did help that the absence of June Mar Fajardo prompted the Beermen to pad size. The former Batangas-EAC slot man had no stats in three minutes of action.

BONBON BATILLER | TERRAFIRMA DYIP

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 3 PICK 25 | COLUMBIAN

0 points in 2 minutes

One of Letran’s go-to-guys during their most recent championship, Edison Batiller barely got playing time in his debut game. He did get tangled up with Jayson Castro though – and that one foul is, unfortunately, the only stat he got that game.

CHRISTIAN BALAGASAY | TERRAFIRMA DYIP

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 12 | COLUMBIAN

0 points and two rebounds in almost 10 minutes

This is actually a deceiving stat because I actually liked what he did in that game’s third quarter. Sure, he never attempted a shot and had four fouls in that stretch but Christian Balagasay did his best to defend the paint and this is one of the reasons why Terrafirma closed the gap. Team Dyip is the best place to hone new talents and I sure hope Balagasay has the tools to exploit this.

ROOSEVELT ADAMS | TERRAFIRMA DYIP

2019 PBA DRAFT | RD 1 PICK 1 | COLUMBIAN

Seven points, ten rebounds, and one steal in almost 35 minutes

I saved the best for last and obviously, Adams ruled his draft class because of his exceptional stat line. But while his board work is impressive, his scoring capabilities were not... at least in the TNT game. The former Mighty Sports mainstay went 3-of-11 from the field and also had four turnovers. Now I know people see him as the play alike of Marcio Lassiter but I actually see him as a stronger version of Chris Lutz. And if there was one thing Adams kept that Lutz failed to show in the PBA, it’s his defensive tenacity. Remember when Rajko Toroman used Lutz as a defensive stopper? I actually saw it on Adams when he tried to defend on TNT’s wings.

Sure, Bobby Ray Parks went insane with 40 points... but I doubt anyone can contain BRP in his current state of mind.



In all, 17 rookies have suited up for their respective squads. The special round draftees like Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi, and Mike Nieto are busy prepping for the FIBA qualifiers. Meanwhile, first-rounders like Prince Rivero and Aris Dionisio are expected to debut at some point this season. The other rookies we expect to see action are Will McAloney, Rey Publico, Vince Tolentino, and Kent Salado.

END!

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