DAYS before the 2017 PBA D-League Draft, UAAP stars Alvin Pasaol and Arvin Tolentino were regarded as shoo-ins to go 1-2 in the order - or at the very least be drafted in the first round.
To the surprise of a lot of fans, the two slipped into the second and seventh rounds, respectively, during the annual event held on Tuesday at the PBA Cafe in Metrowalk in Pasig City.
The high-scoring Pasaol was picked eighth in the second round, and 19th overall, by Marinerong Pilipino while Che'Lu Bar and Grill nabbed Far Eastern University gunner Tolentino in the seventh round.
How did players of their caliber wound up in the late rounds?
For one, the lineups of school-based teams were more or less set, with Perpetual and Akari-Adamson never bothering to join the drafting since they plan to field their school lineup in the tournament.
Only three teams in AMA Online Education, Marinerong Pilipino, and Mila's Lechon were actually fortifying their roster by way of the draft.
But even with a host of choices to pick from for the top overall pick, the Titans still opted to tab little-known Owen Graham, a 6-4 Fil-Canadian who was a walk-in in the team's practice.
Asked why he didn't pluck out either Pasaol or Tolentino, AMA coach Mark Herrera said the team was looking for a big man since offense-minded Mario Bonleon is returning for the team.
"Kasi babalik yung Bonleon at nakuha ko na (Michael) Cañete kaya big man na kulang," Herrera told SPIN.ph.
Marinerong Pilipino coach Koy Banal was as surprised as he was happy that Pasaol was still available for the taking in the second round.
"Ang dinig nga namin di ba, ang press release siya ang top pick ni AMA eh. Pero well, everything happens for a reason," said Banal, whose team picked Fil-Am Kyle Toth in the first round.
Banal said they put premium on youth in picking the role players that will complement holdovers like Achie Iñigo, Renzo Subido, Mark Isip, Jon Lopez, and Zach Nicholls.
Regardless of their position in the draft, the two are still expected to make an impact for their respective squads once the Aspirants' Cup unfurls on January 18.