2011 PBA Rookie of the Year

No question... he is the one. 


Rabeh Al-Hussaini is without a shadow of a doubt, the season’s Rookie of the Year.

But who came close to Rabeh?

23 rookies suited up in this season and while a lot of them played sporadically and didn’t even made the end of the season, there are some that could break out in their next season.

Check out the final rookie rankings.

(AS OF AUGUST 6, 2011)


FOR THE SAKE OF PUTTING THEIR NAMES

By the way, amongst the 2010 Draft Class, only Pari Llagas failed to play for the PBA – choosing the ABL’s Philippine Patriots than playing a reserve role in B-Meg. For the second straight year, a first round draft pick failed to play in the PBA (James Sena in 2009).


23 KHASIM MIRZA / MERALCO – BARAKO BULL – FREE AGENT
Pick Number: 16 
2009 Batch Equivalent: SEAN CO
Of course Mirza did better than Co. Even he played for just four minutes and didn’t get any stats, at least he saw action. He was part of the Mark Isip to Meralco trade and he could have played for the Bulls if the Bulls didn’t give its spot to Gilas.


22 CLAIFORD ARAO / MERALCO – D-LEAGUE
Pick Number: 14 
2009 Batch Equivalent: FRANCIS ALLERA
Allera was a frequently used player for the Coca-Cola/Powerade Tigers. Arao found himself trapped inside a big man-heavy lineup. He played one game where he had two turnovers before getting demoted to the D-League.


21 PATRICK CABAHUG / AIR21 EXPRESS
Pick Number: ROOKIE FREE AGENT  
2009 Batch Equivalent: NONE
I thought for sure Cabahug will be drafted in the 2008 Draft but he wasn’t and had to wait for three years before getting signed by Air21. His performance in the ABL gave him the nod to play four games in the PBA.


20 VAUGHN CANTA / SAN MIGUEL – BARAKO BULL – D-LEAGUE
Pick Number: UNDRAFTED
2009 Batch Equivalent: NONE
I know little about Canta’s pre-PBA career except that he studied at Consumnes River College. After playing two games with San Miguel he was traded to Barako Bull. Eventually he found himself in the D-League.


19 JONATHAN UYLOAN / RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS
Pick Number: UNDRAFTED
2009 Batch Equivalent: NONE
The 28-year-old rookie from Goldenwest literally worked himself for a spot in Yeng Guiao’s rotation and it worked as he was part of Rain or Shine’s eight games. His best conference is the Commish Cup where he had 0.7ppg, 0.7rpg and 0.9apg.


18 VAL ACUNA / B-MEG LLAMADOS
Pick Number: 13 
2009 Batch Equivalent: EDWIN ASORO
As Asoro failed to log in pro minutes, the spitfirish UE forward played six games for the Llamados in the Philippine Cup where he put in 2.8ppg and 0.7rpg in almost 7 minutes of action. Unfortunately for Acuna, he was absent for the duration of the season.


17 EMERSON ORETA / TALK N TEXT TROPANG TEXTERS
Pick Number: ROOKIE FREE AGENT  
2009 Batch Equivalent: NONE
He stuck in the minor leagues for so long that he was 30 when he first played a PBA game. At least for the former UST Tiger, he will have a chance to play for a grand slam squad. Oreta has logged in 13 games in less than five minutes of action and averaged at least a point for TNT.


16 BORGIE HERMIDA / BARAKO BULL – SMART-GILAS – D-LEAGUE
Pick Number: 17  
2009 Batch Equivalent: CHARLES WATERS
Fresh from a San Beda title, Hermida tried to instill winning tradition to the franchise. He played 6 games and averaged 2.2ppg, 1.5rpg, and 0.7apg in the Philippine Cup. He was loaned to the Smart-Gilas but found his self playing for D-League’s Maynilad.


15 REY GUEVARRA / PETRON BLAZE BOOSTERS (FROM AIR21)
Pick Number: 3 
2009 Batch Equivalent: RICO MAIERHOFER
Maierhofer with the absence of Japeth Aguilar was virtually the draft’s top pick. The selection of Guevarra as the third overall pick shocked people. However, the Smart-Gilas high flyer didn’t do enough to sway the critics. Guevarra had 2 points and 1.4 rebounds in the Philippine Cup before getting traded to the Beermen.


14 ELMER ESPIRITU / AIR21 EXPRESS (FROM ALASKA)
Pick Number: 4
2009 Batch Equivalent: CHRIS ROSS
Espiritu became a victim of Tim Cone’s triangle offense system. The former UE Warrior looked lost in the team and unlike Ross, he never really got his game going. At least when he was traded to Air21, he got his best conference with 3.4ppg and 3.6rpg.


13 BAM GAMALINDA / MERALCO BOLTS
Pick Number: 11  
2009 Batch Equivalent: MARK BENITEZ
He had a luckier PBA career than Benitez but that doesn’t mean that Gamalinda had a productive PBA rookie season. He was seldom-used and his best conference would probably be the Philippine Cup where he normed 3.0ppg, 1.6rpg, and 0.7apg.


12 LOU GATUMBATO / AIR21 EXPRESS
Pick Number: ROOKIE FREE AGENT  
2009 Batch Equivalent: NONE
One of the oldest rookies to ever come in the PBA and perhaps the only player in this batch that donned the MBA colors (as part of the Iloilo Megavoltz), Gatumbato got the nod when Marcy Arellano got injured. He had 4.0ppg, 2.9rpg, 3.3apg, and 0.8spg for the Express in the Philippine Cup.


11 JIMBO AQUINO / BARANGAY GINEBRA KINGS
Pick Number: 8  
2009 Batch Equivalent: CHRIS TIMBERLAKE
The former San Sebastian King Stag had his chance to shine in the Philippine Cup where he had 3.6ppg, and 0.9rpg. Unfortunately he played sporadically in the succeeding conferences when Jong Uichico preferred John Wilson’s all-around package instead of using him.




HONORABLE MENTIONS

10 SHAWN WEINSTEIN / MERALCO BOLTS
Pick Number: 10 
2009 Batch Equivalent: JAMES SENA
Weinstein was brought in by Ryan Gregorio to become his third point guard a la Chris Timberlake. While Gregorio did bring in Timberlake in the Governor’s Cup, Weinstein proved helpful nonetheless. His best conference is the Philippine Cup where he notched 3.0ppg, 1.8rpg, and 1.8apg.


9 JAI REYES / POWERADE TIGERS
Pick Number: 18 
2009 Batch Equivalent: ORLANDO DAROYA
While Daroya played just two games in TNT because of the talent surplus, Reyes played well in Powerade because they need a quarterback. The potential for him to have a better sophomore season is there if he doesn’t screw it up. He averaged 3.0ppg in both the Philippine Cup and the Governor’s Cup and in the season, he norms at least 1.5apg.


8 ROB LABAGALA / BARANGAY GINEBRA KINGS
Pick Number: 12 
2009 Batch Equivalent: BENEDICT FERNANDEZ 
His selection shocked the Ginebra faithful because as it is, the Kings are overloaded with guards. Also, Labagala at best is a rookie free agent. However, with the injuries to Jayjay Helterbrand, he got his chance to shine. In the Commissioner’s Cup, the crowd favorite chipped in 5.8ppg, 0.9rpg, 1.1apg, and 0.6spg in 16 minutes of action. Now everybody knows who Rob Labagala is.


7 RJ JAZUL / RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS
Pick Number: 15 
2009 Batch Equivalent: MARCY ARELLANO
It should have shocked him that he was selected in the middle of the second round. Despite his Smart-Gilas accolades, Jazul is just too short to be shooting guard and too offensive-minded to be a point guard. But fact is, he stepped up. Yeng Guiao likes how he does his defense. The Commissioner’s Cup pulled in his best all-around performance with 3.9ppg, 1.4rpg, and 1.5apg.

6 JOSH VANLANDINGHAM / RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS
Pick Number: 5 
2009 Batch Equivalent: JERVY CRUZ
Instead of going for a frontliner like Sean Anthony, ROS decided to select Hapee’s Vanlandingham. He could have done more for the Elasto Painters but it’s either him or Jazul who’s getting the minutes as the key shooting guard backup. His best conference is undoubtedly the Commissioner’s Cup where Vanlandingham had 8.2ppg, 1.8rpg, and 0.6apg.




ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES

5 HANS THIELE / ALASKA ACES (FROM BARAKO BULL AND MERALCO)
Pick Number: UNDRAFTED 
2009 Batch Equivalent: NONE
PHILCUP: 7.7PPG – 6.9RPG – 0.9APG – 15 GAMES
COMCUP: 0.0PPG – 0.7RPG – 3 GAMES
GOVCUP: 1.7PPG – 1.3RPG – 3 GAMES
In a draft low on big men, it came to a shock that this former UE Warrior failed to get drafted. But then he did the smart thing and applied for a team starved on talent. After playing well for Barako Bull, he was traded to Meralco and then he was traded again to Alaska where he played limited minutes. His best conference is definitely the Philippine Cup where he finished with 7.7ppg, 6.9rpg, and 0.9apg.


4 JOHN WILSON / BARANGAY GINEBRA KINGS
Pick Number: 7
2009 Batch Equivalent: OGIE MENOR
PHILCUP: 0.0PPG – 0.5RPG – 0.3APG – 4 GAMES
COMCUP: 5.0PPG – 2.2RPG – 0.8APG – 16 GAMES
GOVCUP: 7.2PPG – 4.6RPG – 0.9APG – 13 GAMES
He foregone his last NCAA season and set his sights on the draft. Picked seventh, injuries occurred that sidelined him for the greater part of the Philippine Cup. He was however, an excellent arsenal at the Commissioner’s Cup. Comparing him to batch equivalent Ogie Menor, Wilson displayed his skills wisely. He was so good that Willie Miller became expendable. His best conference is probably the Governor’s Cup where he was a regular part of the rotation and claimed 7.2ppg, 4.6rpg, and 0.9apg.


3 SEAN ANTHONY / POWERADE TIGERS
Pick Number: 6
2009 Batch Equivalent: MIKE BURTSCHER
PHILCUP: 9.3PPG – 6.0RPG – 2.3APG – 7 GAMES
COMCUP: 5.2PPG – 4.0RPG – 0.9APG – 0.7SPG – 9 GAMES
GOVCUP: 9.4PPG – 7.2RPG – 2.2APG – 1.0SPG – 5 GAMES
Anthony is deemed lucky when he was traded by Air21 to Powerade. Tigers have long been talent-starved and his entry is a key for the team to claim another big man or a scorer. Anthony happens to be both – although he is more of small forward. Compare him to Mike Burtscher, he did the best of what was given to him. The problem in his game is that he is often-injured and hopefully that will changed in the next season. Anthony had 9.4ppg, 7.2rpg, 2.2apg, and 1.0spg in the Governor’s Cup where in a way he held ground as they wait for Gary David’s return from injury.


2 NONOY BACLAO / PETRON BLAZE BOOSTERS (FROM AIR21)
Pick Number: 1
2009 Batch Equivalent: JAPETH AGUILAR
PHILCUP: 5.6PPG – 8.6RPG – 1.9APG – 2.5BPG – 14 GAMES
COMCUP: 3.4PPG – 4.2RPG – 1.0APG – 1.0BPG – 10 GAMES
GOVCUP: 0.7PPG – 1.0RPG – 0.3BPG – 6 GAMES
Nonoy Baclao in terms of this ranking is the second-most important rookie of the 2010 class. Japeth Aguilar’s foolhardy ploy to hostage Air21 gave the Express this pick. However, the fact that he is a seldom-used slotman with less than stellar offensive skills and is often-injured, Nonoy Baclao could be one of the worst top picks ever. With everyone thinking that Rabeh Al-Hussaini should be the rightful top choice, the former Ateneo slotman averaged 5.6ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.9apg, and 2.5bpg in the Philippine Cup. These numbers will significantly drop when he was traded to the San Miguel Beermen.


1 RABEH AL-HUSSAINI / PETRON BLAZE BOOSTERS (FROM AIR21)
Pick Number: 2
2009 Batch Equivalent: PICK FORFEITED
PHILCUP: 17.5PPG – 8.9RPG – 1.0APG – 0.9BPG – 15 GAMES
COMCUP: 12.0PPG – 6.8RPG – 1.7APG – 10 GAMES
GOVCUP: 11.8PPG – 4.3RPG – 0.6APG – 12 GAMES
It was his destiny to rule over his batch. After that unceremonious top pick snub, Al-Hussaini stated his claim for respect in the hardcourt. At one point, Rabeh and Baclao looked a lot like the modern-day version of Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codinera. However, his Air21 stint proved short-lived and he was sent to SMB alongside his fellow rookies. As his rookie friends struggle, he still had his minutes. Even if the Blaze Boosters were eliminated early in the Commissioner’s Cup, it was sure as hell that Rabeh Al-Hussaini will not be denied in claiming the Top Rookie trophy.


So yeah, I am picking Rabeh Al-Hussaini to win the Rookie of the Year award. It would be stupid of me not to pick him. He certainly did a lot for himself here and with the way he sacrificed his Smart-Gilas stint to apply for the pro circuit meant that he is poised to make wonders on his game.

Game over.

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