IN a surprise move, Rain or Shine dropped top rookie Alex Nuyles and back-up center Larry Rodriguez from its protected list on Friday, enhancing the pickings for newcomers Kia Motors and Blackwater Sports in the coming PBA dispersal draft.
The hard-charging Nuyles was a first-round pick of Rain or Shine at ninth overall in last season's draft and made quite an impression in the limited minutes he got off the bench - the reason the former Adamson Falcons star's presence in the pool readily stirred excitement from Blackwater owner Dioceldo Sy.
"The dispersal draft suddenly became exciting," said Sy.
On the other hand, Rodriguez was a late-blooming big man who shone while playing behind Beau Belga for much of last season, especially after JR Quinahan's season was ended by a knee injury.
The decision to drop Nuyles and Rodriguez came after a meeting between Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao and co-owners Terry Que and Raymund Yu in Greenhills on Friday.
By leaving the two unprotected, the Asian Coatings franchise have decided to keep players like Jeric Teng, who was picked behind Nuyles in last season's draft, back-up guard TY Tang, Chris Tiu, and Jireh Ibanes in one of the deepest rosters in the league.
The decision is also a reprieve for Jonathan Uyloan, the rarely used guard who put on a superb performance in Game Four of the last PBA Governors Cup Finals against San Mig.
The two now add luster to the dispersal draft on July 18, where Kia and Blackwater will take turns picking from a pool that should also include two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso who was likewise left unprotected by Meralco, according to team manager Butch Antonio.
The dispersal pool should also include Meralco's Paul Artadi, Barako Bull's Bonbon Custodio and Jason Deuschman, Ginebra's Jens Knuttel, San Miguel Beer's Sam Marata, and Alaska's Ryan Buenafe.