Phoenix coach Koy Banal said this year’s PBA Rookie Draft pool has enough talent to boost the Fuel Masters as they look forward to improving the team’s stock for the future.
This year’s draft will be held sometime in November, but Banal is already keeping that in mind, especially since a potential bumper crop of freshmen are set to invade the pool.
“Rebuilding tayo (come draft day),” Banal said, shortly after the press launch on Wednesday to officially welcome Phoenix Petroleum into the PBA at Novotel Manila in Quezon City.
Banal said Phoenix, through its former Barako bull franchise, owns 2 1st-round picks this year, thus giving the Fuel Masters a bigger chance to build their roster.
The Fuel Masters’ senior citizens this season include Mick Pennisi, who will turn 41 next month, while the 6-foot-3 Wilson just turned 36 last month.
Veteran playmaker Josh Urbiztondo is turning 33 late this month, while Intal is now 32.
“Sa ngayon okay pa naman (roster) pero depende kung sino available sa mga draftees. But definitely, size ang priority namin,” added Banal.
This year’s draft class is teeming with blue-chip talent led by 2-time UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo, UST duo Kevin Ferrer and Ed Daquioag, Mac Belo, RR Pogoy and Mike Tolomia of UAAP champion FEU and former NU Bulldogs star Bobby Ray Parks, who is currently playing in the NBA D-League.
Parks, the 6-foot-4 guard, plays for the Texas Legends and has been the apple of the eye of most PBA coaches and would have been a top rookie pick last year if he didn’t push through with his dream of playing in the NBA.
Meantime, Banal is confident that his current roster is capable of making heads turn this conference due to the presence of Nigerian import Kenny Adeleke.
Adeleke, who turned 33 on Wednesday, is fresh from a stint with the Institute Atletico Central Cordoba in Argentina.
“Sabi nga nila, you cannot run without the basketball. But now, we have a big man (in Adeleke) who can get those defensive rebounds, so we’re gonna run,” stressed Banal.
The 6-foot-8 Adeleke went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft, but has had extensive overseas professionals stints in countries like Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, Ukraine, Spain and in the U.S. where he played for the Springfield Armour, averaging 5.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in 31 games. — By Richard Dy