WONDERING how a top talent like Juan Gomez de Liano could fall as deep as the sixth round in the 2019 PBA D-League Draft?
Well, it's like this.
Since University of the Philippines has grand plans for the next UAAP wars after reaching the finals last season, D-League teams aren't sure if the high-flying Gomez de Liano would be allowed to play in the developmental league.
As much as they'd want to take in the shifty guard, teams also do not want to waste their precious picks on someone who may not end up being available. So they opted to select other players who are sure to play instead.
"Matagal na naming nilo-locate, pero di namin alam kung magpapa-draft nga siya. Natakot lang din kami na baka masayang din ang pick," explained AMA Online Education assistant coach Edwin Ancheta.
Despite the uncertainty, Che'Lu Bar and Grill took the risk and picked the Maroons' star guard in the sixth round.
That late? It's worth the risk, says Che'Lu officials.
"Yung coaching staff namin, may konting doubt kung papayagan siya ng UP, lalo na't nagpe-prepare sila for their incoming players like (Kobe) Paras and (Ricci) Rivero so baka di payagan. Pero good catch na yun kung papayagan. We just took the chance," head coach Stevenson Tiu said.
How about guys like former Ateneo guard Anton Asistio (fourth round), Jasper Parker and Ian Alban (seventh round), and UP guard Jun Manzo (16th round) slipping well down in the selection?
That is not really because teams aren't impressed by these talents.
Here's another probable reason.
Most teams in the PBA D-League already have set lineups heading to the draft proceedings. So it's no surprise that these teams prioritize picking those players before gambling on the players available in the pool.
For example, league newcomer McDavid took in guys like Jerome Villanueva, James Villanueva, and Erwin Pena for its first three picks -little-known players who were called ahead of some of the other blue-chip names.
It is also not an uncommon practice for school-based teams to send their players through the draft and eventually pick them.
This year, it was Go for Gold-CSB, Diliman College, and Trinity University of Asia which did that, drafting players in their lineups before getting their hands on those in the applicants pool.
That's why for players who are testing their luck outside of their collegiate teams, they know that they have to wait before getting their turn to be called.
For the other school-based teams, they also have the option of not joining the draft proceedings, and rather, just submitting their full rosters to the PBA before the season begins.
To cut the long story short, the picking order in the PBA D-League draft does not necessarily reflect the true value of players.