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Outstanding Rookie bet Aaron Black on verge of PBA history

It has been proven that PBA players drafted outside the first round can still flourish, with Meralco guard Aaron Black being the latest testament.

Black, picked 18th overall by Meralco, is on the verge of becoming the lowest drafted player in PBA history to win a top rookie honor as he contends for the Outstanding Rookie award.

NLEX veteran Larry Fonacier currently holds the distinction after nailing the Rookie of the Year plum despite being nabbed as the 14th pick in 2005.

"It can show younger players who are coming up that it does not really matter where you're drafted or what round," said Black.

"If you're given the right opportunity, if you work hard, there is a big possibility that you can succeed and play in the PBA."

Dropping to the second round turned out to be a suitable situation for Black as he landed at Meralco, where he is coached by his father Norman Black.

Given ample playing time, Black followed through and averaged 6.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 18 games.

One of his best games came in the quarterfinals, where he put up 14 points and 3 rebounds as Meralco dragged erstwhile five-time Philippine Cup titlist San Miguel to a do-or-die match.

Meralco beat San Miguel again to reach the All-Filipino semifinals for the first time in franchise history, but it fell prey to eventual champion Barangay Ginebra no thanks to a Scottie Thompson game-winner.

"It motivated me to play harder, work harder every day," Black said about being drafted outside the first round. "Not just when we got to the bubble, but even before that. It pushed me to work harder when I was tired."

"It definitely gave me the opportunity that you can compete at the PBA level whether or not you're drafted in the first round."

Other players who are also vying for the award are Barangay Ginebra's Arvin Tolentino, Terrafirma's Roosevelt Adams, Alaska's Barkley Eboña, and Magnolia's Aris Dionisio.

"This might be the only bubble conference ever, so to win it would mean a lot. It would be sort of a driving force for me to work even harder, for next conference, for next year," Black said. – Rappler.com

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.

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