IN the first PBA Rookie Draft of his tenure as commissioner, Willie Marcial made the 2018 edition a unique one as he stepped out of the spotlight and let the teams announce their respective selections.
Coaches and players themselves were the ones who announced their picks as 41 of the 47 entrants got called up to the stage in the ceremony held at Robinsons Place Manila. That's exactly how Marcial wanted it.
"Mas maganda na yung coaches at players ang nagsasabi ng mga picks nila para rin makita sila ng mga fans sa drafting. Di ba maganda naman ang nangyari?" he said.
Columbian coach Johnedel Cardel was the first to get his hands on the mic and without batting an eyelash, chose CJ Perez as the top pick in this year's class.
The quote machines later churned out a couple of classics.
"Sa amin na 'to," said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, echoing Paul Desiderio's battle cry after taking the former University of the Philippines star at No. 4. It didn't take long, though, before NLEX traded him and fellow first-rounder Abu Tratter to Blackwater for Poy Erram.
Phoenix coach Louie Alas also eased the tension a bit during the proceedings by announcing, in jest, that he was drafting team manager Paolo Bugia with the 12th pick before proceeding to select Jorey Napoles.
Columbian assistant coach Art dela Cruz was visibly nervous as he mistakenly announced 11th overall pick JP Calvo as "CJ Calvo."
Familiarity also worked wonders for some aspirants.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria happily took his former Adamson guard Ryan Monteclaro in the third round before all hell broke loose in the fourth round.
Chris Javier was the one to call out his former UE teammate Dan Alberto's name for Blackwater, as NorthPort assistant coach Jeff Napa called the name of his former Letran stud Jeremiah Taladua in the same round.
Kim Cinco also reunited with Lyceum coach Topex Robinson at Phoenix, as NLEX deputy Sandy Arespacochaga drafted Dan Wong of Ateneo.
But the spotlight belonged to Jason Perkins, Stanley Pringle, and Mo Tautuaa, as all were challenged to speak in Filipino.
Perkins was the one to announce Cinco's selection for the Fuel Masters.
Pringle, meanwhile, had to call the name of John Ragasa, who also sports the same beard as the NorthPort guard. It turned out to be the last pick in the class of 2018.
Tautuaa finished the proceedings, saying, "Ayaw na namin," drawing applause from the audience.