On August 23, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the country’s premiere basketball league, will once again open its doors to the country’s top amateur prospects. The annual draft serves as a chance for PBA teams to recruit possible missing pieces, as well as next generation franchise players. Although the official list of draft prospects will not be released until August 20, the mock draft posted on the PBA’s website reveals that three former DLSU Green Archers are likely to be drafted — namely Norbert Torres, Almond Vosotros, and Yutien Andrada.
According to the mock draft, Torres will most likely be picked during the first round by the Meralco Bolts. Vosotros however, will probably be chosen during the second round by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, while the Alaska Aces will likely choose Andrada for their last pick in the third round of the draft.
Power Forward Moala Tautuaa from Chadron State College remains the top prospect of the 2015 draft class. The six-foot-seven Tautuaa is likely to join the Talk’ N’ Text Tropang Texters, as Blackwater’s supposed No. 1 pick had already been given to the Texters in a trade.
Andrada, Vosotros, and Torres entered the collegiate stage during UAAP Seasons 72, 73, and 74 respectively, with Vosotros and Andrada being recruited from San Sebastian College and Torres coming all the way from Mother Theresa High School in Canada. Inheriting a team that had a meager 8-6 record in Season 74, La Salle plummeted to a 5-9 record, failing to make the final four on that year.
Despite the limited minutes given to them that season, the trio still left an imprint on the games they played in.
Torres tallied a stat line of 7.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while playing only less than 20 minutes per outing. Vosotros, however, was able to produce 6.8 points per game in only 13 minutes of gameplay. Andrada, the utility player, also proved reliable as he contributed five points and half a block per outing in just 14 minutes of gameplay. Even though their time to possibly shine was limited, they proved that the future of La Salle basketball would be in great hands for the seasons to come.
The championship year
There were a lot of doubts over the strength of the Green Archers at the start of 76th UAAP season. A new coach meant a new system, and that meant a lot of time needed to adapt to the changes. To add to that, Andrada had an ACL tear that left him out of action for the season. Those doubts were eventually buried as the Green Archers emerged victorious against the UST Growling Tigers at the end of the finals series.
While most critics would say that the performance of Jeron Teng was the main reason for the team’s success that year, the steady contributions of veterans Vosotros and Torres are of equal importance as well.
Vosotros improved heavily as he led Season 76 in most three-pointers made, as well as most minutes played. The former San Sebastian Staglet played a crucial role as he displayed his ability to instantly score when it mattered the most. Vosotros finished the season averaging 14.2 points per game, while shooting 28.1 percent from three-point territory. His most notable performance was in Game 3 of the finals series against UST, when he made a crucial jumper in the dying seconds of the game.
That same year, team captain Torres imposed his dominance and efficiency inside the paint. The quiet big man put up 7.1 points per game and added 8.1 rebounds per game as well, while also making crucial plays during the elimination round.
Chasing the gold
Vosotros and Torres were given a chance to garner experience under their belts as they suited up for the Philippine National Basketball Team, the Gilas Cadets. The team was composed of some of the finest amateur talents in the country, mentored by coach Tab Baldwin.
The Gilas Cadets went on to participate in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship (SEABA) last April 27 to May 4. In a complete display of dominance, the Philippines managed to capture their seventh title, including a spot at the FIBA Asia Championship in China later this year.
During the five-day tournament, Vosotros chipped in a steady 8.2 points per game, while shooting just over 35 percent from beyond the arc. On the other hand, Torres finished with 6.6 rebounds per game, falling short behind fellow teammate Marcus Douthit who garnered 6.7 rebounds per outing.
Last June, the Philippine Team was faced with another challenge as they were set to defend their title at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games held in Kallang, Singapore.
The two former Lasallians started strong early in the preliminary rounds, with Vosotros and Torres contributing quality minutes for Baldwin. During their semifinal match against Thailand, Vosotros caught fire as he scored 18 points, all of which came from three-pointers. The former DLSU sharpshooter showed his ability to score at will once again when he scored a go-ahead basket in the dying moments of the final quarter.
In their finals match against Indonesia, the Philippines made their adjustments and were ready to go head-to-head with their rivals. Indonesia, however, found themselves within reach all throughout the game. After shooting impressively in the earlier stages of the tournament, Vosotros found himself struggling from the field, making only two out of his 11 attempts. Torres also crashed the boards, chipping in two defensive rebounds and one on the offensive end. However it was Mac Belo who sealed the deal for the Gilas Cadets, who won the gold after beating Indonesia, 72-64.
As of press time, Torres was the only one to confirm joining this year’s draft. He is currently in Toronto, Canada training for the draft, which will be held at the Robinson’s Place Ermita. Vosotros has not confirmed his application, but from last year’s interview with The LaSallian, he mentioned that he already made plans to enter the draft after his stint with La Salle. Andrada, however, remains quiet in his decision.