PBA Draft

Ayo says Converge still mulling No. 1 pick as PBA Draft offers multiple options

Delfin Dioquino

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Ayo says Converge still mulling No. 1 pick as PBA Draft offers multiple options

TOWERING. Justine Baltazar in action during the 2024 PBA Draft Combine.

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Converge head coach Aldin Ayo says the FiberXers have trimmed down their choice for the top pick to 'three to four players'

MANILA, Philippines – The late addition of top prospects in the PBA Draft has given Converge headaches as the FiberXers decide on who to select with the No. 1 overall pick.

Converge head coach Aldin Ayo on Wednesday, July 10, said the FiberXers have trimmed down their choice to a few players ahead of draft proceedings on Sunday, July 14, at Glorietta in Makati City.

Ayo says Converge still mulling No. 1 pick as PBA Draft offers multiple options

“There are three to four players on our radar. We’ll think about it,” said Ayo in a mix of Filipino and English as he attended the Draft Combine at Ynares Arena in Pasig.

Justine Baltazar, a two-way big man out of La Salle, has long been expected to be chosen by Converge not just due to his impressive credentials but also because of his Pampanga connections with the young franchise.

FiberXers team owner Dennis Anthony Uy hails from the same province, while Pampanga Governor Dennis “Delta” Pineda, who coaches Baltazar in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, is closely tied with Converge.

The FiberXers once attempted to appoint Pineda as their team governor to no avail.

But the inclusion of the likes of Sedrick Barefield, Kai Ballungay, RJ Abarrientos, and Dave Ildefonso has provided Converge more options.

A 6-foot-2 guard, Barefield is the only player in the pool with NBA G League experience, Ballungay is an athletic 6-foot-6 forward, while former Gilas Pilipinas guards Abarrientos and Ildefonso are both coming off overseas stints.

“One month before the deadline, we all thought it would be a boring draft. Then all of a sudden, everything became interesting because the good players followed,” said Ayo. “We thought it would not be a deep pool.”

“It is a hard decision because you really have to think about it. There are kinds of players in this pool that you’re not going to see every year,” said Ayo.

“There are players who can be a foundation of your program. There are players who will be good for five to seven years who will make your program competitive as long as you get them.”

Although still undecided, Ayo said the FiberXers are putting premium on size and all-around skills.

“We’re going to look for a player who is versatile enough to make up for our deficiencies, especially on defense,” said Ayo. “We lack bigs. And at the same time, firepower. We lack offense.”

After Converge, Blackwater will pick second followed by Terrafirma at No. 3, Phoenix at No. 4, NorthPort at No. 5, NLEX at No. 6, Rain or Shine at No. 7 and 8, Magnolia at No. 9, and Barangay Ginebra at No. 10.

The two conference champions last season, Meralco and San Miguel round out the first round at No. 11 and 12, respectively. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.