San Sebastian boys do best in the PBA Draft Combine aptitude tests while Stephen Holt and other top rookie international players from the Philippines avoid the Draft Combine

Sep 13, 2023

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During Day One of the two-day Draft Combine at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong, potential PBA rookies from San Sebastian made a significant impression.

Out of a total of 128 applicants hoping to hear their names called in the PBA Rookie Draft on Sunday, only 114, including Kenneth Villapando, Rhinwil Yambing, and Larry Arpia, excelled in some of the skills tests.

In the three-quarter court sprint, Villapando finished first with a time of 2.81 seconds, Yambing had the highest standing vertical jump of 34.5 inches, and Arpia had the best maximum vertical leap of 43 inches.

They were able to steal some of the spotlight from other notable rookie applicants, such as Ricci Rivero, John Amores, Raphael Cu, Dominick Fajardo, Jose Norberto Gomez De Liano, James Kwekuteye, Brent Paraiso, Ken Tuflin, Jolo Mendoza, Fran Yu, and Keith Jimenez, among others, thanks to their accomplishments.

Kim Aurin, a player for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA 3×3, led the other four players in submitting a flawless score of 100 percent on the reaction test. Carlos Cullar (La Salle), John Gob (UP), and Enoch Valdez (Lyceum) also achieved flawless grades.

Aurin, a graduate of Perpetual Help University, had planned to register for the draft the previous year but changed his mind just before the deadline. He participated in the PBA 3×3 for the Kings and the league’s premier draw during the preseason On Tour.

Alwin Margallo, on the other hand, won the agility test with a time of 11.53 seconds.

Clifford Jopia of San Beda, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, was the tallest contestant; Ryan Costelo and Raphael Mallari, who are all 5 feet 5 inches, were the shortest.

On Wednesday, the enormous number of players was already separated, and 5-on-5 games were then played.

A players’ orientation and the resumption of the 5-on-5 games round out the final day of the Draft Combine on Wednesday.

Kemark Carino, a former San Beda big man who played in the Japan B.League, had the biggest standing reach and wingspan at 105 and 86 inches, respectively.

With a standing reach of 105 inches, Tsutonomi Tateishi, previously of Santo Tomas and Benilde, shared the record with Carino.

All rookie hopefuls must attend the players’ orientation on the final day of the Draft Combine before the 5-on-5 games are finished in the late afternoon.

Those absent on the first day of the PBA Draft Combine at the Gatorade Hoops gym in Mandaluyong City included highly regarded Stephen Holt, Keith Datu, and Brandon Bates.

The three prospective first-round picks were unable to participate in the two-day activity required of every athlete who applied for the rookie draft since they were still abroad.

Nevertheless, Holt, Datu, and Bates all presented letters of justification to the PBA Commissioner’s Office.

All three of the three Fil-foreign players were excused from the day’s events, according to a letter, which PBA technical operations staff member Mauro Bengua did confirm was present.

According to his agent Marvin Espiritu of the EMBM (Espiritu Manotoc Basketball Management), the 6-foot-4 Holt, who played for the Canton Charge in the NBA G League, is staying in the US because his wife recently gave birth two weeks ago.

Datu, though, might still be able to make it to Wednesday’s final day of the Draft Combine if his flight back to Manila isn’t delayed.

Zavier Lucero, a former shooter for the University of the Philippines, did not attend either because he is still recovering from the ACL tear he sustained during the UAAP men’s basketball championship against Ateneo.

Henry Galinato of the UP and Luis Villegas of the University of the East were present but did not take part in the 5-on-5 drills or the skill testing.

Compared to Galinato, who arrived directly from the airport and was still feeling a little wobbly, Villegas is recovering from a comparable ACL injury.

Out of the 128 hopefuls that applied, just 14 did not attend the Draft Combine, which ends on Wednesday.

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