Philippine Basketball Association draft

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The Philippine Basketball Association draft is an annual selection process during which Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) teams can acquire in an agreed-upon order new players from outside the league who are not free agents. The draft began in 1985. Prior to that, teams hired rookies directly.


All players have to be natural-born Filipinos. Persons who chose Filipino citizenship by the age of maturity are considered as natural-born citizens.

For local players the requirements are that they must:

  • Be 21 years old at the day of the draft (previously 23). If under 21 years of age, the player must have completed four years of college,
  • Be a college graduate or four years removed from his high school graduation, and,
  • Play at least one conference in the PBA Developmental League or for the Philippine men's national basketball team.

Filipino-foreigners have the same requirements as locals except they must:

Imports -- non-natural-born Filipinos -- do not enter the league via the draft. They are directly signed by teams, and only play in some conferences. Naturalized citizens can only play in the league as imports.


The natural drafting order is determined by the teams' final rankings within each conference from the previous season, with rankings from the PBA Philippine Cup having heavier weight; the team with the worst picks first, and the team with best winning percentage picking last in the first round. In the second round, the natural drafting order is followed, the team with the second worst winning percentage will pick first then the worst will pick second. The worst and second worst team will change places in the following rounds.[1]

The drafting order is also subject to change if a team deals their draft picks in trades.

Draft lottery[edit]

Before 2015, a draft lottery determines which team gets the first overall draft pick, but in a much smaller scale; only the two worst-performing teams in the preceding season participate. The team with the worst record has a 67% chance of clinching the #1 seed while the second-worst only gets a 33% chance.[2] The draft lottery is usually held prior to the finals of the final conference of the season. The draft lottery was abandoned after the controversies that aroused during the lottery for the first pick of the 2014 draft.[3][4]

Number of rounds[edit]

Starting in the 2005 draft, the league has limited the draft into two rounds, with all undrafted players will become free agents; prior to 2005, drafting goes on until all the teams have passed. However, in the 2011 PBA Draft, the league allowed the draft to continue until all teams have passed. The two-round restriction of the draft was attributed to an agreement between the PBA and the Philippine Basketball League (PBL), which also included a development fee to the PBL team from which the player was drafted. This was removed in 2011 as the PBL had folded, and amateur players played in the PBA D-League instead.[5]

Undrafted players automatically become free agents and can sign up with any team.

Expansion draft[edit]

There are three expansion drafts in the league's history. The first was in 1990, in which the new teams Pepsi Hotshots and the Pop Cola Sizzlers selected up to six players from the expansion pool, which is made up of three players from each of the six existing franchises. The second was in 2000, where newcomers Batang Red Bull Energizers selected players from the draft.

An expansion draft for new teams Blackwater Elite and Kia Sorento was held on July 18, 2014, so that both team can form its rosters for the 2014–15 season. The 10 existing PBA franchises protected up to 12 players in their roster.[6][7] Two time MVP Danny Ildefonso of the Meralco Bolts was selected as the first pick of the expansion draft by Blackwater, followed by Reil Cervantes of Barako Bull by Kia.[8]

Carry over amateurs[edit]

If a new franchise also has an existing franchise from the Philippine Basketball League (PBL), the franchise may be given by the PBA an option of selecting from their PBL team several players to be directly elevated to their PBA team. This was last given to the Welcoat Dragons, who elevated three players from their PBL team. This is no longer the option for new franchises which were formerly PBA D-League franchises.

List of first overall picks[edit]

Flags indicate the country were the player studied college; all players are Filipinos until proven otherwise, like Sonny Alvarado's case where he fled the country as his citizenship was being questioned.

Draft Name PBA team College End-of-season awards of the first overall pick for the season
1985 Sonny Cabatu Shell Philippines Lyceum none
1986 Reynaldo Cuenco Alaska Philippines Arellano none
1987 Allan Caidic Great Taste Philippines UE Rookie of the Year, Mythical Five
1988 Jack Tanuan Purefoods Philippines FEU none
1989 Benjie Paras Shell Philippines UP Diliman Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Mythical Five
1990 Peter Jao Great Taste Philippines USJ-R none
1991 Alejandro Araneta Alaska Philippines Ateneo none
1992 Vergel Meneses Presto-Tivoli Philippines JRC none
1993 Jun Limpot Sta. Lucia Philippines De La Salle Rookie of the Year, Mythical Second Team, All-Defensive Team
1994 Noli Locsin Tondeña Philippines De La Salle* none
1995 Dennis Espino Sta. Lucia Philippines UST none
1996 Marlou Aquino Ginebra Philippines Adamson Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Mythical Five, All-Defensive Team
1997 Andy Seigle Mobiline United States New Orleans Rookie of the Year
1998 Danny Ildefonso San Miguel Philippines NU Rookie of the Year, Mythical Second Team
1999 Sonny Alvarado Tanduay United States Texas Mythical Team
2000 Paolo Mendoza Sta. Lucia Philippines UP Diliman none
2001 Willie Miller Red Bull Philippines Letran none
2002 Yancy de Ocampo FedEx Philippines St. Francis Mythical Second Team
2003 Mike Cortez Alaska Philippines De La Salle Mythical Second Team
2004 Rich Alvarez Shell Philippines Ateneo Rookie of the Year, All-Defensive Team
2005 Jay Washington Air21 United States Eckerd none
2006 Kelly Williams Sta. Lucia United States Oakland Rookie of the Year, Mythical Team
2007 Joe Devance Welcoat United States Texas-El Paso none
2008 Gabe Norwood Rain or Shine United States George Mason Rookie of the Year, Mythical Second Team
2009 Japeth Aguilar Burger King United States WKU** none
2010 Nonoy Baclao Air21 Philippines Ateneo none
2011 JV Casio Powerade Philippines De La Salle Sportsmanship Award
2012 June Mar Fajardo Petron Philippines University of Cebu Mythical Second Team
2013 Greg Slaughter Barangay Ginebra Philippines Ateneo*** Mythical Second Team , Rookie of the Year
2014 Stanley Pringle GlobalPort United States Penn State Rookie of the Year

*Locsin studied at Saint Benilde while he was playing for De La Salle.
**Aguilar played for Ateneo before playing for WKU.
***Slaughter played for UV before playing for Ateneo.

By school[edit]

School Total
De La Salle 4
Ateneo 4
UP Diliman 2
Others 1 each