Why did coach Marvin Bienvenida choose Joel over Kai as top pick?

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 10, 2018 06:56 PM
Why did coach Marvin Bienvenida choose Joel over Kai?
Joel Cagulangan or Kai Sotto was the decision coach Marvin Bienvenida had to make in the NBTC All-Star Game

Kai Sotto is the top-ranked high school basketball player in the Philippines.

Like he has been in six of the eight weeks of the National Basketball Training Center Chooks-to-Go 24, Sotto was hailed as the best of the best among all players selected for the All-Star Game on March 23 at the MOA Arena.

The seven-foot-one, 15-year-old Ateneo de Manila High School standout, however, was not the top overall pick in the draft held in Pasig City last Wednesday.

Instead, that recognition went to Joel Cagulangan – the five-foot-eight point guard who towed La Salle Greenhills to its first-ever championship in school history.

It was widely assumed, of course, that Sotto was a lock as the top overall pick.

Choosing first, however, coach Marvin Bienvenida went with Cagulangan – his prized ward with the Junior Blazers. “For me, I was a point guard, and we all saw what Joel could do,” he told reporters.

Yes, Bienvenida passed over a generational talent in the UAAP Finals MVP for his own player who was the NCAA Finals MVP and the first and foremost reason why they took the title in the first place.

And for him, why wouldn’t he do that as in his eyes, Cagulangan’s heart is as big as Sotto’s physique.

More than that, the LSGH mentor said he believes there are a lot of talented big man who he can throw at Sotto. “Kay Kai, I can pick him, but I also have other options to play against him,” he explained.

That, he did and drafted one of Aaron Fermin, the pillay of Arellano High School; Warren Bonifacio, one of Mapua University’s twin towers; and Raven Cortez, the promising prospect from De La Salle Zobel.

Joining Cagulangan, Fermin, Bonifacio, and Cortez in Team Cherifer Heart are L-Jay Gonzales of Far Eastern University-Diliman, Dave Ildefonso of Ateneo, Clint Escamis of Mapua, John Galinato of Chiang Kai Shek, Inand Fornilos of LSGH, Evan Nelle of San Beda High School, and Biern Laurente and Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas.

On the other hand, Sotto will be flanked in Team Cherifer Hustle by fellow Blue Eaglet SJ Belangel; Will Gozum of Mapua; RJ Abarrientos of FEU-Diliman; CJ Cansino of University of Sto. Tomas; Rhayyan Amsali, Terrence Fortea, and Miguel Oczon of Nazareth School of National University; Harvey Pagsanjan of Hope Christian High School; Joem Sabandal of Adamson High School; Mac Guadaña of Lyceum of the Philippines University; and Alex Visser of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu.

Following a two-week wait for us, the 2018 NBTC All-Star Game will tip off LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on S+A, S+A HD, and livestream.


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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