My fourth-worst draft is the event that ruined the PBA’s status.
Since its inception in 1975, we have been programmed to understand that the PBA is the place for the best Philippine ballers. It was further reinforced with the inauguration of the Metropolitan Basketball Association or MBA. Many PBA players jumped to the MBA but only because they wanted an opportunity to showcase their talent. When the MBA folded or was on the verge of collapse, a lot of players tried for league spots but only a handful remained as superstars.
Then there was also the time when Fil-Ams flocked the league. With some careers getting a dead end, the PBA became an avenue for Fil-foreigners to continue earning basketball-related accolades. The league proved so good for these players that fake players would even try to pass their selves as half-blooded Pinoys.
If you’re a big time Pinoy player, the PBA is the highpoint of your playing years.
But like I said, 2009 made it feel otherwise.
2009 PBA Draft
When the Burger King Whoppers selected Japeth Aguilar to be their top pick, it came as a surprise to no one. While his offense back then was in need of fine tuning, Aguilar’s upside is awesome. As part of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, he volleyballed shots with insane intensity. Furthermore, Japeth would leave Ateneo to further hone his craft with the Western Kentucky Wildcats. If Japeth is not good enough to achieve success in the American pro circuit, then he’s welcome to strut his wares in the PBA.
But then in a move that made heads turn, Aguilar would then ditch Burger King for Smart-Gilas after his debut game… pissing off then-coach Yeng Guiao who engineered his Powerade-Team Pilipinas stint of the same year.
In some ways, this served as a precedent. It ruined the notion that everyone wants to play in the PBA. It’s understandable for a Fil-Foreigner like Christian Standhardinger to delay his PBA stint because of other international endeavors but for homegrown players (or at least Pinoy-raised) like Bobby Ray Parks and Kiefer Ravena, it’s just insane. Japeth was supposed to be the league’s main centrepiece for the future… and he just realized he doesn’t to play in the PBA. Sure, he’s going to play for flag and country… but had the Whoppers known his heart is meant to do other things, then they would have picked another player.
The situation got so bad that the league was going to give him a lifetime ban.
Burger King would then deal Aguilar to Talk N Text for four first round picks. The old Barako Bull franchise (the one that traced its lineage to Red Bull) got thrown to this deal and got only Orlando Daroya in return.
Barako Bull (the one that traced its lineage to FedEx, Air21 and Burger King) is no different. Remember the picks they got as compensation for Japeth Aguilar? They should have been a powerhouse with additional picks in 2010 (from Red Bull/Barako Bull), 2012, 2013, and 2014 but for some insane reason, they played their cards wrong.
The 2010 first rounder they got became Rabeh Al-Hussaini – who after a stellar Philippine Cup would be sent to San Miguel. The 2013 first rounder Air21 got turned out to be Isaac Holstein – a raw talent they would package to GlobalPort who would later briefly play for the team. Their 2014 first rounder is Jake Pascual – a guy with so much potential that they would trade to Star.
Barako Bull’s 2012 first rounder?
They would trade the pick to the Petron Blaze Boosters.
Try googling June Mar Fajardo.
This is why the PBA is better without the conduit squads!
And finally, the 2009 PBA Draft is the only time that a draft pick held by a defunct franchise was not inherited by the team that bought its franchise.
Rain or Shine should have had dibs on the second pick overall. Sure, it was Shell’s fault for obtaining the rights to Powerade’s first round pick nearly half a decade since their disbandment but Rain or Shine did buy the Shell franchise… including its assets. The vacant first round slot decreased the quantity of drafted players in the draft and it probably ruined Rico Maierhofer’s career as well. Sure the former DLSU Green Archer won the Rookie of the Year Award while playing for Purefoods but he has since compounded to act as trade bait. Excluding Coca-Cola, Maierhofer has played in four SMC squads and yes… I am counting Barako Bull as a SMC squad. It’s like Maierhofer underwent the same career path as play-alike Rich Alvarez. Just imagine if Maierhofer’s guard-like gameplay made serious headway as part of the Elasto Painters?
But at least Maierhofer is still part of the league. With the exception of Aguilar, Maierhofer, Chris Ross, and Jervy Cruz, none of the draftees really blossomed in the league. Even the undrafted combo of Josh Urbiztondo and Jonathan Uyloan had better PBA careers.
And this is why the 2009 PBA Draft made this list.
Do you agree?
What’s my number three?
Find out next time!