This 37th season, all eyes are on the rookies who were drafted last August 28, 2011 in the PBA 2011 Draft. With the SMART Gilas players like JVee Casio, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Mac Baracael, Marc Barocca, Dylan Ababou and UE’s Paul Lee, they will banner their mother team and help to carry them into the Finals.
Let us rank the last 11 Winners of the PBA Rookie of the Year.
#11 – Davon Harp (2000 – Red Bull)
Where is he? Ah ok, next please…
#10 – Rich Alvarez (2004 - Shell)
Entering his 7th year in the PBA, he is considered as journeyman already, nearing the list of draft disappointments, he played for various teams from Shell to Alaska to Red Bull to Purefoods to Barangay Ginebra to Air21 up to his present team, Talk N Text Texters. His credentials while playing in the UAAP, with 2 MVPs, but here in the PBA, this is his only award that he can boast for.
#9 – Renren Ritualo (2002 – Air21)
Known as “The Rainman” in the UAAP playing for the La Salle Green Archers, he steered his team to championships. Drafter by Air21, this sweet-shooting Ritualo played a vital role for the team, aside from winning the ROY, he is also the 2002 Sixth Man of the Year by the PBA Press Corp. Unluckily, he was drafted by Air21, he is traded to Talk N Text, then to Coca Cola Tigers/Powerade, got cut and found his way to Shopinas Clickers and coach Franz Pumaren.
#8 – Rico Maeirhofer (2009 - Purefoods)
A De La Salle standout before going into the PBA, he was drafted behind the controversial Jappeth Aguilar by the Burger King. Became a corner-stone of the Purefoods during their campaign in the 2009 season. Because of numerous injuries, Rico immediately powered his way onto the starting line up and helped his team to capture the Philippine Cup versus Alaska Aces via sweep. Best remembered when he was posterized by Danny Seigle’s powerhouse dunk.
#7 – Rabeh Al-Husseini (2010 – Air21)
He is extRABEHgant! He was picked second overall behind his fellow Eagle Noy Baclao in the 2010 PBA Draft. Criticized by his future mentor before the draft, he immediately muscled his way down to PBA stardom. One of the players involved in the shocking trade between Air21 and San Miguel Beermen, he wasted no time by delivering goods for the team. His strong showing in the Governor’s Cup is a sign that he is already one of the reliables in the lineup. Got injured in the last phase of the elimination, but boasted a double digit average points every game.
#6 – Gabe Norwood (2008 – Rain or Shine)
One of the 3 first pick overall to win the ROY award, “The President” is also a two time national team member. Entering his 4th year in the PBA, he already accomplished what a future star has to offer, a Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, 2 time PBA All Star, and 2009 PBA Slam Dunk Champion. A very versatile player who can play multiple positions and seeking his first PBA championship in this season opening.
#5 – Ryan Reyes (2007 – Sta. Lucia)
Drafted behind Joe Devance (Welcoat) and Sam Eman (Magnolia), Reyes was one of the few point guards applied for the 2007 PBA Draft. Winning the 2008 ROY award, he was also the first rookie player to play for the 2008 PBA – All-Star Game and lead his team to Philippine Cup Championship. In 2010, he was traded to Talk N Text, alongside with Kelly Williams to be part of the National Team training pool.
#4 – Larry Fonacier (2005 – Red Bull)
The lone second round pick draftee in the list, “The Baby Face Assassin” became an integral part of the Red Bull team during his rookie year. Some says the reason why he was drafted in the 2nd round, team coaches doubted that his career might be over due to ACL injury he sustained in 2004. But he proved his haters wrong and Yeng Guiao gave his support to this player. Now playing for his 4th team, Talk N Text Tropang Texters.
#3 – Kelly Williams (2006 – Sta. Lucia)
“The Machine Gun”. During his rookie season, he averaged 18.3 PPG and 9.6 RPG, close to a double-double average for a rookie, earning him as the 2006 PBA ROY, defeating Air21’s Arwind Santos. After a season, he was awarded as the 2007 PBA MVP by winning the Philippine Cup for the Sta. Lucia. In 2009, he suffered an illness and was out in the entire season. He is now playing for the Talk N Text Texters.
#2 – Mark Caguioa (2001 – Barangay Ginebra)
He is virtually unknown during the 2001 PBA Draft, the BGK showed no hesitation by picking him third pick overall. “The Spark” was the third player to win the PBA ROY since Dondon Ampalayo in 1986 and Marlou Aquino in 1996. He is also considered as one of the best players today without an MVP award (same sentiments for Danny Seigle). As controversial as always, Mark showed no mercy in every game he played.
#1 – Jimmy Alapag (2003 – Talk N Text)
“The Mighty Mouse” was selected 10th pick in the first round by Talk N Text, which seems to have a problem on point guard position. Teaming up with Asi Taulava, they lead the team to All-Filipino Cup Championship, earning him the ROY award. He is also the 2004-05 PBA-All Star Co-MVP, with Taulava. And in the 36th season of the PBA, he led the team to two consecutive championships in Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup and earning the 2010 PBA MVP.
The last 11 Rookie of the Year awardees, 5 of them played for the Talk N Text last season.