ALL MJ Ayaay wanted was to hear his name called out no matter what team.
When Alaska took him ninth in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft on Sunday, Ayaay said it felt surreal as he realized his lifelong dream of making it to the pros.
"Nagulat ako. Sobrang gulat. Wala akong idea na kahit ano. Hindi talaga ako nage-expect," said the Lyceum forward.
Little did Ayaay know, the Aces had been eying him since he applied for the draft.
"I think we got exactly what we wanted," remarked coach Alex Compton. "He's a really tough kid and I think he's an overachiever, a winner, and a leader."
Ayaay has been a steadying force in his three years with the Pirates and was impressive in the two-day Draft Combine.
It also helped that the Quezon native is familiar with the system ran in Alaska, with Lyceum mentor and now-Phoenix deputy Topex Robinson also sharing the same schemes.
"He was coached by coach Topex who runs the same system as us. He's been an assistant to me before and we share a lot of our basketball and leadership philosophy so I think the transition for MJ will be a fairly smooth one. It won't be a radical departure than what he's used to in college," Compton said.
Aside from Ayaay, Alaska also picked Gboy Babilonia of Ateneo in the second round.
For Compton, the Aces did what it wanted to do heading to the draft.
"Both these kids are high-character kids and they work really hard. They're committed to the team," he said. "We're excited to bring them in knowing what they can do."