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Fil-Americans dominate ’08 PBA freshman class

August 31, 2008 8:22pm
MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine made true its promise to select highly touted Filipino-American Gabe Norwood as the no. 1 overall pick in Sunday’s 2008 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Annual Rookie Draft at the Market! Market! Activity Center in Taguig City.

Arriving in Manila four hours before draft time, Norwood became the seventh foreign-raised Filipino to be chosen as the top pick, an anticipated outcome on a day that was also marked by an unexpected twist when Talk ’N Text traded Jay Washington to San Miguel in exchange for the draft rights to amateur standout Jason Castro.

“It’s been a long year-and-a-half," said Norwood, the player who was given special treatment to be eligible in the draft after serving the national team on three occasions, the most significant of which was during the FIBA Asia Olympic qualifiers last year in Japan.

“As far as I am concerned, I will surely help the team get wins. I’m excited, and the most that I can give for the team is my work ethic," Norwood added, minutes after joining the Welcoat franchise.

Norwood will receive the maximum P8.7-million contract allowed for rookies. He will get P150,000 a month on his first year, P225,000 on his sophomore season and P350,000 a month on his third year.

Jared Dilinger, another US-raised Filipino, was picked second by Talk ‘N Text.

The biggest draft surprise, however, came when San Miguel traded its draft rights for the third pick overall to Talk ‘N Text, which used the trade to acquire highly coveted point-guard Jason Castro, who failed to attend the ceremony after encountering a flight delay in Singapore.

Castro, a multiple Most Valuable Player (MVP) awardee in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL),was playing recently for the professional team Singapore Slingers in a Brunei tournament.

Talk ‘N Text, which owned the fourth pick, chose another Fil-Am Rob Reyes. The Phone Pals ended up with the most number of players (four) drafted after taking San Beda guard Pong Escobal at 11th overall in the second round.

Alaska chose burly guard Solomon Mercado at fifth while Air21 made Mark Borboran as its choice at sixth. Purefoods acquired slotman Beau Belga, Bonbon Custodio was taken by San Miguel, Red Bull chose Larry Rodriguez and Sta. Lucia snatched Kelvin Gregorio at 10th overall to close out the first round

Rain or Shine also took TY Tang, a former La Salle ace and Harbour cager in the PBL. He was considered a “big steal" by Rain or Shine team owner Raymund Yu when the team picked him 12th overall.

The Express added Pocholo Villanueva into their fold after picking him 13th and the Realtors picked Chito Jaime next. The Aces then netted former NCAA MVP Kelvin Dela Peña as the 15th overall pick before Purefoods acquired Jonathan Fernandez.

The Bulls had consecutive picks in the second round and acquired Jeff Chan and Mark Cuevas at 17th and 18th before passing. The Realtors then closed out the draft process by choosing Christian Cabatu.

Norwood followed in the footsteps of Andy Seigle (1997), Sonny Alvarado (1999), Mike Cortez (2003), Washington (2005), Kelly Williams (2006) and Joe DeVance (2007), all Fil-foreign players who became top draft choices. – GMANews.TV
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