SEVEN YOUNG men with roots to the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities have thrown their names into consideration for the coming Philippine Basketball Association Rookie Draft on October 30 (Sunday) at Robinsons Place Manila. They form part of a 55-strong pool wherein the next batch of pro league superstars will arise.
Among the most prominent of the batch is point guard Jiovani Jalalon, the 2011 Seniors Rookie of the Year with the Informatics Icons before transferring to Arellano University. Jalalon will be included in the special draft wherein teams will pick from members of the national training pool.
While Jalalon is almost sure of being selected early, the six other NAASCU alumni are hoping their name will be called once the regular draft commences. Among the aspirants are several who pray that their championship experience will earn the attention of scouts.
Jam Jamito and John Ambulodto were part of the Saint Clare College of Caloocan Saints that won it all in 2012. The 6’3” well built Jamito once led the league in rebounds and also had solid PBA D-League experience with Racal Motors/Caida Tiles and AMA Online Education.
Ambulodto is getting second looks being one of the taller applicants this season at 6’5”. He has shown potential in his D-League stints with Racal/Caida.
Another Saint Clare alumnus Jayson Ibay did not win a title while in Caloocan but was part of the back-to-back champion University of Manila Hawks from 2010 to 2011. Along the way, the 6’3” forward picked up a pair of Mythical Five citations and played in the D-League for Informatics and Racal Motors.
Cedrick Ablaza also cracked the Mythical Five in his stint with the STI College Olympians. Ablaza is a worker who thrives on playing defense and grabbing rebounds and has played in the D-League for Blackwater and Informatics.
Guard Aaron Jeruta was the 2012 Juniors Division Most Valuable Player while with Centro Escolar University. He later went on to play a key part in the Scorpions’ dynasty in the Seniors Division from 2013 to 2015 and CafeFrance’s winning the 2015 D-League Foundation Cup.
Rounding out the NAASCU applicants is shooter Al Francis Tamsi, who played one season for the San Sebastian College-Cavite Baycats in 2010. The team disbanded thereafter prompting Tamsi to transfer to the University of Cebu before finding his way to Far Eastern University and later winning back-to-back D-League crowns with Phoenix Petroleum.
They all hope to follow in the footsteps of former NAASCU Most Valuable Players Chito Jaime of AMA University (2006) and Joseph Sedurifa of CEU (2013) who have made the PBA. With the NAASCU enjoying unprecedented growth in the recently concluded 16th season, it will not be surprising if more league alumni get to realize their basketball dreams of hitting the big time.