PBA  ROOKIE  DRAFT:  WELCOAT  PICKS  JOE DEVANCE  OVER  SAMIGUE  EMAN

MANILA, AUGUST 19, 2007
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Welcoat wanted a do-all, go-to guy as it opted to get Joe Devance over Samigue Eman as the No. 1 pick overall in the 2007 PBA Rookie Draft at the Market! Market! Mall in Taguig yesterday.

“After a long, thorough discussion and deliberation, we decided to go for the more complete package who can play on both ends of the court. We think it’s the popular, right and logical choice,” said coach Leo Austria after his team bestowed top pick honors on Devance.

With Devance, Austria thought they’ve gotten a player who can well help them in their bid to improve their forgettable finishes last season.

The team management also had high hopes on Devance that co-team owners Terry Que and Raymund Yu readily declared they would make things easy for the Fil-Am behemoth, offering him right away the maximum pay in his first three years in the league. That would be no less than P7 million.

“For sure, we will improve with the addition of Devance. We’ll be more competitive than last season pero malabo pa rin ang championship,” said Austria.

Austria hinted picking Devance in the first round and Ryan Araña in the second round was the start of its rebuilding plan. He said they may close trade deals in the coming days.

Devance, a former University of Texas at El Paso mainstay, said he’s happy to finally make it to the local pro league and he’s looking forward to helping Welcoat achieve its aspirations.

“It’s not about Joe Devance, it’s about Welcoat. I’m not worried about my individual performance. I’m thinking of the team,” said Devance, accompanied in the draft exercise by his Filipina mother Mae Sanz Devance, a native of Escalante, Negros Occidental.

Devance thus joined Andy Seigle, Jay Washington and Kelly Williams as the No. 1 Fil-Ams chosen in the draft. He actually barely made it to the draft pool when the league board gave him an extension to submit required documents.

San Miguel settled for Eman at No. 2 and got Jonas Villanueva at No. 9. Sta. Lucia selected Ryan Reyes at No. 3, Air21 picked JC Intal, Doug Kramer and Yousif Aljamal at Nos. 4, 5 and 8, Alaska got Ken Bono and JR Quinahan at Nos. 6 and 7, and Barangay Ginebra chose Macky Escalona at No. 10.

In the second round, Ronjay Buenafe went to Coca-Cola, Araña to Welcoat, Melvin Mamaclay to Sta. Lucia, Marvin Cruz and JR Masbang to Air21, Jojo Duncil to Red Bull and Ardy Larong to Alaska.

Red Bull waived two other draft rights in the second round and Talk n Text one. Thus, only 17 out of 44 players were picked in the 2007 draft exercise sponsored by Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs and backed by Accel and Goldilocks.

Players not picked automatically became unrestricted free agents. They can try out with any team.

Eman said joining the Beermen is a dream come true for him and his father Fernando who used to work with San Miguel in Davao.

“My name Samigue derived from San Miguel. I’m sure my father is so happy and proud right now,” said Eman, the tallest among the hopefuls at 6-foot-8.

Sta. Lucia, meanwhile, has gotten another blue-chip guard in Reyes after dealing Alex Cabagnot to Coca-Cola last campaign.

Sta. Lucia governor Buddy Encarnado said they’re also ready to offer Reyes the maximum package for the next three years.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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