Ken Holmqvist and Brian Enriquez weren't exactly household names at the amateur level, but they impressed Barangay Ginebra enough to merit getting drafted back-to-back at No. 12 and No. 13 on Sunday in the PBA Season 46 Rookie Draft,
Coach Tim Cone said both draftees provided great first impressions when they brought them on board for workouts in the weeks leading up to the rookie proceedings.
"Ken and Brian were strong targets of ours. We had both of them in practice for workout," Cone said Sunday. "When we interviewed them, they both seemed to be good teammates and that was important to us."
The Gin Kings owned the last pick of the first round at No. 12 and moved up to get the first pick of the second round at No. 13 overall by trading away Jerrick Balanza and their own No. 24 pick in a deal with NorthPort on Friday.
Enriquez and Holmqvist were pegged to go at 12th and 15th overall in ESPN5.com's final mock draft, but both were still seen as surprise picks partly due to their relative lack of exposure here in the Philippines.
"Both players are versatile players who can play multiple positions. Ken can go 3/4/5 at 6'8 and Brian can play 1/2/3 at 6'3," Cone shared.
Holmqvist, a 6-foot-8 center from Norway, played for two seasons in the UAAP for Far Eastern University and was part of the Tamaraws squad that bagged the title in Season 78 during 2015.
The 26-year-old big man showed flashes of potential in the 2015 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) and was named tournament MVP after pushing FEU to a share of the title with San Beda.
Holmqvist, however, later flew back to Norway and did not return until after declaring for this year's draft.
"I was just thinking that it's now or never, I'm not getting younger," Holmqvist said about returning to the Philippines and entering the PBA. "They can expect that I'm just gonna work on my game and be the best player that I can be just to help the team out and just to get individually better every day."
Enriquez, on the other hand, was set to play in the UAAP for the University of the East before changing course and shooting for the PBA due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 26-year-old Enriquez played NAIA basketball in the U.S. and saw action for William Woods University.
"I'm so excited for the opportunity. I want to thank coach Tim Cone and the Ginebra family for taking a chance on me. I'm just really blessed and thankful," he said moments after getting his name called. "I'm just looking forward to learning the culture and experiencing it. I know basketball here is almost a religion. I'm just excited for the opportunity.
Holmqvist and Enriquez were the only two draft picks by Ginebra this year. The Gin Kings passed on a third prospect at No. 36 at the tail end of the third round.
I" think we have great mentors on the team that will show them the ropes. Their skills will speak for themselves and I think the Gin fans will like them," said Cone. "I think the two rookies will find out very quickly how lucky they are to be able to play in front of the Ginebra Nation."