MANILA, Philippines—A few weeks after the 2023 PBA Draft, Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin is still gushing about the selections made by the Fuel Masters ahead of the league’s 48th season.
Jarin revealed that he got more than what he’s expecting during the draft.
“Actually, we were looking for horses in the draft and fortunately for us, they weren’t horses. They were thoroughbreds so I’m very happy with the draft picks we have right now. They’re proven winners and we’re very excited to compete in the coming conference,” said Jarin in the PBA’s Media Day at One Esplanade in Pasay on Tuesday.
Phoenix ended up with a quartet of promising young guns in Ken Tuffin, Raffy Verano, Matthew Daves and most notably, Ricci Rivero.
After having trained with all four of them, Jarin said he’s still baffled about how he got Rivero in the Draft’s second round.
“Like they’ve been saying, I still don’t know why I ended up with Ricci at the second round but it’s very fortunate for us and some people don’t know that I have a good relationship with Ricci,” said the veteran tactician.
Jarin is no stranger to training young talents as he mentored in the collegiate level for San Beda in the NCAA and National University in the UAAP. He even had a hand at being an assistant for University of the East under coach Jack Santiago not too long ago.
With his stint in the UAAP, he had a familiarity with their first round selection Tuffin. Despite that, though, Jarin said his decision to choose the former Far Eastern University stud was made “blindly,” due to his run overseas in New Zealand’s National Basketball League.
“When we were looking at the first round we got the sixth pick and we were really looking at Tuffin. Everybody was blinded because we didn’t know he developed but he played two years in New Zealand, that’s a professional and tough league,” explained the veteran tactician.
As for Daves and Verano, who are both Ateneo products, Jarin saw two different uses for his newfound players.
Jarin sees Daves as a bruiser who is capable of backing up Phoenix bigs Larry Muyang and Raul Soyud.
Verano, meanwhile, is a versatile weapon that could play both the guard and forward roles for the Fuel Masters.
“[For] the mold with Raffy, we were looking at players with multiple positions. When I talked to them, I said that the dream would be for you to play two, three and four, which they can be.”
“We [also] got Matt Daves, a known banger and a very athletic big who runs the floor well and he’s gonna develop as time goes by.”
Phoenix begins its campaign in the Commissioners’ Cup on November 10 against the NLEX Road Warriors at Araneta Coliseum.
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