Is Jason Brickman the best point guard in the PBA Rookie Draft? A former coach thinks so

FILIPINO HOOP fans first got a glimpse of Jason Brickman when he suited up for Mighty Sports in the 2016 William Jones Cup, and many immediately salivated over the possibility of the then-25-year-old pure point guard playing for the Gilas program. He was quick, crafty and made a huge splash with his high basketball IQ and incredible pin-point passes as he led to his squad to a sweep of the competition en route to the title.

But lack of necessary paperwork prevented Brickman from suiting up for Gilas, and he later turned up in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) as a Heritage Import for eventual titlists the Westports Malaysia Dragon -where he was named Finals MVP (playing alongside eventual league MVP and future Gilas stalwart Matthew Wright) and later on for the expansion Mono Vampire Basketball Club from Thailand before signing with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in 2019.

Throughout his entire ABL stint, Brickman was the focal point of the offense. He led the league in assists and was averaging close to a double-double with 12.8 PPG, 8.9 APG while also getting 1.9 SPG and shooting 43% from the field.

Listed at a 6'0" (although he may quite possibly be shorter), Brickman's mother was born in Manila while his maternal grandfather hails from Nueva Ecija and his maternal grandmother is from Pangasinan. Brickman actually holds a Philippine passport, but the former Long Island University orchestrator is still in the process of obtaining the other documents required by the PBA and hopes to have them ready before the league mandated deadline.

While this is still ongoing, PBA scouts are keeping a keen eye on the applicant many consider to be perhaps the most seasoned playmaker in the upcoming draft.

"(I) still think he's the best Filipino (point guard) that has yet to play in the PBA," according to Ariel Vanguardia, Brickman's former coach with the Dragons. "He can turn around a team because of his playmaking skills, a la Tony Parker or Jason Kidd."

Brickman's game is indeed similar to the aforementioned retired NBA cagers with his ability to find his open teammates with his accurate dimes and his shooting that keeps defenses honest. His quickness also allows him to penetrate and find the open shooters such as former Mono teammate Paul Zamar-who led the ABL in three-point marksmanship during two seasons playing alongside Brickman.

"Jason is a great passer and everyone around him knows that," Zamar, who made his way to the PBA because of his stellar ABL career, said. "One thing that separates him from everyone is his great motor. He just doesn't stop on offense and defense. He's all over the place (and) that's why his transitioning is unmatched."

AT AGE 29, Brickman could be perhaps the most PBA ready among the aspirants in his position and his international experience gives him that edge in adapting to any environment and any system.

"I have wanted to join (the PBA) for years now," Brickman said in an exclusive interview with ESPN5.com. "I think I will be able to help any team with my playmaking and experience at the point guard position. My experience playing overseas has prepared me for whatever challenges I may face in the PBA."

"(Jason is) not as vocal as most (point guards) but very effective," Vanguardia added. "(He's an) underrated defender (and he's) not the most athletic but (he's) very shifty. You can compare him to Hector Calma."

Calma made a name in Philippine basketball for his court-generalship without being as vocal as other great point guards in league history. Brickman falls into the same category, but whether he can be mentioned in this elite company in the future remains to be seen. But so far those who have played with him have been impressed.

"He just makes the game easy for his teammates," Zamar interjected.

Whether the system requires someone who can run the dribble drive, thrive in transition by forcing turnovers, execute the pick and roll or just conduct a halfcourt set, Brickman is one of those hard-to-find commodities with a developed skill set, a positive attitude and an aura that can transform a franchise into a winner.

And Jason Brickman has this message to the PBA faithful: "(I) just want to thank all the Filipino fans who have supported me throughout my career and I hope I can get to play in front of them in the PBA soon."