RD 2 PICK 14 – TYLER TIO
RD 2 PICK 16 – CHRIS LALATA
RD 2 PICK 19 – ENCHO SERRANO
RD 2 PICK 23 – ENZO JOSON
RD 3 PICK 28 – ALVIN BAETIONG
RD 4 PICK 39 – LEO ESGUERRA
RD 5 PICK 47 – NINO IBANEZ
RD 6 PICK 51 – JOHN UBALDE
In a time when the Phoenix Fuel Masters should have had a first-round pick, they have none. They gave away their pick to nab Vic Manuel from Alaska but then they let The Muscle Man walk to Northport alongside Michael Calisaan for injured star Sean Anthony and Sean Manganti (Manuel would later go to San Miguel).
But through various trade deals, Phoenix found their selves swimming with second-round picks.
Four to be exact.
They also ended up with eight selections.
Tyler Tio is pretty much a surprise for the Fuel Masters because this guy should have been a first-rounder. The former Ateneo guard is expected to shore up a thin core that basically has Aljun Melecio as the clear-cut lone point guard unless you also count tweeners Matthew Wright and RJ Jazul. Moreover, it gives Phoenix a winning tradition from the superb Ateneo core (never mind how UAAP Season 84 ended).
With their other picks, I guess their scouts know better. I never really got the Encho Serrano hype and I haven’t really seen Chris Lalata and Enzo Joson play. I do think that Lalata and Serrano are going to help Phoenix. Both players are MPBL mainstays and I can see these guys bringing their brusko basketball to Phoenix (see Nick DeMusis).
Phoenix closed out the draft proceedings with eight players – nabbing Alvin Baetiong in the third round, Leo Esguerra in the fourth, Nino Ibanez in the fifth, and John Ubalde in the sixth round. I don’t see anyone breaking out to become the next big superstar but I also see these players with a probable chance to strut their wares. Again, Phoenix is in need of talent and if one of these guys can become practice players, then there’s a chance for them to become their 3X3 representatives and perhaps a spot on their 5-on-5 team as well.
Aside from the rookies, the Fuel Masters are also pressed to develop the careers of Melecio and Larry Muyang. They also need to find suitable support for Wright and Jason Perkins. In a perfect world, these two objectives could coincide with the other but at the moment, the talent differential is almost incomparable. There was a time when Phoenix was seen as the next big small market team but losing their starting core in a snap, obviously derailed their climb.
Melecio and Muyang are going to face off against Tio and Lalata.