Devance is No. 1 Pick

On: 20 August 2007

“Popular, right & logical choice” – Austria
Monday, 20 August 2007

Welcoat is a young team in a hurry.

After a rather disappointing maiden season, the Dragons went for the present over the future as they selected Joe Devance No. 1 pick overall in the 2007 PBA Rookie Draft at the jampacked Market! Market! Activity Center in Taguig Sunday.

The guessing game over who would be this year’s top pick reached fever-pitch the past week as Welcoat seemed torn between the versatile Devance and Samigue Eman, the tallest among the 44 rookie hopefuls whom many see more as a project.

"After a long, thorough discussion and deliberation, we decided to go for the more complete package who can play 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.

The soft-spoken Welcoat chief tactician believes he has a player in Devance who can immediately help turn the Dragons fortunes around in their second season in Asia’s first play-for-pay cage loop.

Expectations are high that Devance would deliver and co-team owners Terry Que and Raymund Yu readily declared they would make things easy for the Fil-Am behemoth, offering him the maximum pay in his first three years in the league, or 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 Arana in the second round was the start of a rebuilding the team will undertake. 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 realize its dreams.

"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, another Fil-Am chosen No. 1 in the Draft joining the ranks of Andy Seigle, Jay Washington and Kelly Williams, actually barely made it to the Draft pool with his appeal for extension in submitting required documents accommodated by the league board.

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, Arana 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 Rookie Draft 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 is 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-9.

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.

"Before the draft I was so nervous and I didn't know what to expect. Now, I'm excited to join my new team and hoping to contribute," said Reyes, a Cal State Fullerton product who used to play with Mike Holper, Chris Pacana and Washington in LA. Source: PBA Site

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