What if the Realtors will Pick First

On: 19 June 2009

Jared Dillinger

In the last two years, the Realtors seems to be picking the right player from the draft despite several options available in the list and in the face of the so-called opinions of 'experts' on who is the right player for them.

First, was the decision to break their tradition of bypassing filpino-americans (fil-ams) in the draft in favor of the 'homegrown' talents in 2006. Many pundits believe that the Realtors will choose Arwind Santos over Kelly Williams as their top pick since the former is a pure-pinoy unlike the high-flying fil-am sensation. Well, as luck would have it, the Realtors appeared to have made the right choice after K-Will became last year's top rookie and this year's Most Valuable Player (MVP).

In last year's PBA Draft, the Realtors were given the third pick overall in the draft. Instead of choosing well-known names, such as JC Intal, Doug Kramer, Ken Bono and JR QuiƱahan, they decided to pick Ryan Reyes. Before that pick, not enough information is available about Reyes except the less-than-eye-popping stint in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) and that the 6'2" point-guard was once a high school teammate of NBA three-point champion Jason Kapono.

Just like Williams, the Realtors appeared to have found a gem of a player after Reyes emerged convincingly as the top rookie this year and was included in the Mythical Defensive Team. He led the league in steals, 2.7 per game.

With the 2008 PBA Draft just around the corner, on 31 August at the Market!Market! Place in Taguig City, the Realtors are again expected to dig deep within their pot of luck since they are ranked last in the drafting order. However, given the chance to pick number one overall, Realtors coach Boyet Fernandez did not have to mince his words in naming Jared Bautista Dillinger as their choice over another fil-am sensation Gabe Norwood.

In an interview with Beth Celis, Fernandez described him as, "... best at the point but he also plays the 2, 3 and 4 positions. Sobrang galing (Very good). He’s very versatile, can post up, shoot and play one-on-one. The only thing we don’t know is how well he can defend. He’s an exciting player. He can also dunk and he has the built.”

Like Reyes, Dillinger is clearly overshadowed by the highly touted Norwood. However, like Fernandez, Talk N' Text coach Chot Reyes believes that Dillinger has more potential than the other players in the draft and his team will gladly pick the 6'5", 200-pound, 24-year-old native of Rapid City, South Dakota if he is still available when its their turn to pick at second.

Dillinger averaged 9.7 points in 30 games, including 25 starts, for the University of Hawaii as a senior in the 2007 season. He led the varsity in three-point field goal percentage (38.30 percent) with 51 conversions and was second in steals with 34. In NCAA Division I games, the crack guard shot 19 points against New Mexico State, 17 against Centenary College, 15 against New Mexico, 14 against Utah State (including the go-ahead basket with a minute left), 14 against Boise State and 12 in a 40-minute no-relief job in another game against Utah State.

The year before, Dillinger played only six minutes in six games as the last player in the 14-man Hawaii roster and his scholarship was nearly taken away. But he worked hard to keep his spot during the summer and became a starter in a remarkable turnaround.

"I don't know how to explain it," said Dillinger, quoted by Dayton Morinaga of the Honolulu Advertiser, referring to his sudden emergence. "It's just grit, I guess. A ball, a hoop and some hard work. Last year was what made me strong mentally. I know I can't take anything for granted. That's why I try to give everything I have, every minute out there."

Before enrolling at Hawaii, Dillinger played two years for the US Air Force Academy where he said he developed discipline, integrity and character. The Air Force posted a combined 40-18 record during his two years as a reserve guard. He averaged only 1.7 points as a freshman when Air Force made it to the NCAA Tournament, losing to North Carolina in the first round.

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