Aguilar the Top Choice

On: 04 August 2009

Photo courtesy of

PBA website, 3 August 2009

As expected, Burger King made Japeth Aguilar the No. 1 pick in 2009 Draft held at the Market!Market! in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

Dubbed by many as the next dominant big man in Philippine basketball, the 6-foot-9 San Fernando, Pampanga-born product of Western Kentucky was chosen ahead of 19 others who were selected out of a total of 50 qualitied applicants, the most in league history since 2003 when there were 63 available.

Son of former PBA player Peter, Japeth, who turned 22 last January 25 also became the youngest No. 1 pick since Mike Cortez, then 22 years, two months and two days old, was chosen by Alaska as the top pick in 2003.

Currently with the Powerade-Team Pilipinas that is leaving on 4 August for the FIBA-Asia Basketball Championships in Tianjin, China, Aguilar averaged 8.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 shotblocks while shooting 51% from the field in eight games with the Nationals which finished sixth in the recent Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Top 4 selections in the Draft pretty much went according to most experts’ forecasts with Purefoods, looking to shore up its frontline, getting former De La Salle Green Archer Rico Maierhofer at No. 3, Burger King tabbing Fil-Am Chris Ross with the fourth overall pick and Rain or Shine getting former UST big man Jervy Cruz at No. 5.

The No. 2 overall pick was non-existent as it was owned by now-defunct ballclub Shell and was deemed forfeited.

But the first big surprise of the Draft was Alaska’s selecting 6-foot-5 Fil-Swiss Michael Burtscher, who qualified as a local applicant even though he was born in Baden, Switzerland. This is because his Filipina mother was able to register his birth with the Philippine embassy in Switzerland and thus has a birth certificate from the National Statistics Office.

The 24-year-old Burtscher, who listed Schulhaus Booststock in his Draft application form as his college school, saw action in the PBL in the last two years.

Barako Bull then selected Rogemar Menor with the seventh overall pick, which it acquired last Thursday from Sta. Lucia in exchange for Gabby Espinas.

With the No. 8 pick, crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra got Jayjay Helterbrand another backup at the point guard spot, selecting 5-11 1/8 Chris Timberlake, a University of North Florida product and Washington, DC- born Fil-Am whose mother, Rosemarie, was born in San Nicolas, Bamban, Tarlac.

Burger Kings then used its third first round selection, the ninth overall pick, by choosing 6-foot-3 former University of Manila Hawk Ronnie Matias while reigning Fiesta Conference champion San Miguel Beer rounded out the first round of the Draft by selecting the youngest draft applicant, former JRU bigman James Ryan Sena, who is turning only 21 at the end of this month.

Sta. Lucia picked up two big men in the second round, taking in former DLSU center Mark Benitez at No. 11 overall and Angeles City-born Charles Waters, who is actually a brother-in-law of Kelly Williams, at No. 17.

Barako Bull, which finished dead-last in the two conferences last season, continued its rebuilding program by taking in Benedict Fernandez and Edwin Asoro at Nos. 12 and 13.

In a surprise major Draft day move, Coca-Cola, which originally didn’t have any pick in this year’s Draft, traded Ronjay Buenafe to Burger King in exchange for Marvin Cruz’s and the Whoppers’ two second round selections – the 14th and 20th overall – which the Tigers used to select Francis Allera and John Walsham, respectively.

The rest of the second round of the Draft had Rain or Shine opting for former UE Red Warrior Marcy Arellano at No. 15, Alaska getting Sean Co – likely the first player from Chiang Kai Shek to be selected in the Draft – at No. 16, Barangay Ginebra tabbing former Arellano star and Calasiao, Pangasinan-born Orlando Daroya at No. 18 and Talk 'N Text getting its only pick in this year’s Draft at No. 19 in the person of Jimmy Alapag nephew Kevin White, a 5-11, Los Angeles-born point guard out of West Hills Junior College.

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