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AMA pulls off shocker by nabbing Graham first overall in D-League Draft


By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--AMA stunned everyone at the PBA Cafe in Pasig after selecting Owen Graham first overall in the PBA D-League Draft on Tuesday.

Graham, however, is not new to the Titans as he was part of its NAASCU team this year.

"Mabilis siya at all-around player siya. Naglaro na siya sa akin sa NAASCU at para siyang si Arwind Santos," Coach Mark Herrera said of the forward, who like Santos is listed at six feet and four inches.

AMA actually selected two more relatively unknown players to the mainstream basketball scene in the next two rounds, namely Michael CaƱete, who played for Arellano in the NCAA last season, and Rocky Antonares.

Meanwhile, Wang's formally sealed its partnership with Letran for the upcoming D-League wars by taking nine Knights in the draft led by second overall pick Jerrick Balanza.

Transfer players Fran Yu (fourth round), Bonbon Batiller (sixth round), Christian Fajarito (seventh round), and Larry Muyang (eighth round) were included in Letran's D-League squad.

Batangas formalized an alliance with EAC by taking 15 Generals. Interestingly, Batangas' first round selection, third overall pick Allan Martin, is not part of EAC's NCAA lineup last season.

CEU elevated four players from its UCBL team to the D-League led by fourth pick Keanu Caballero.

Zark's also made its tie-up with Lyceum formal by taking 13 Pirates led by reigning NCAA MVP and fifth overall pick CJ Perez, Rookie of the Year and 16th overall pick Jaycee Marcelino, and twin brother Jayvee, the 27th overall pick.

Gamboa also forged a collaboration with St. Clare, leading to nine Saints being drafted led by sixth overall pick Mohammed Pare.

Meanwhile, JRU took nine players in the draft, mostly coming from the players who were not in its NCAA lineup.

Marinerong Pilipino, one of only two teams not fielding in a collegiate lineup, made its own shocker by taking Kyle Toth with the eighth pick.

The other non-school-based team, Mila's Lechon, made Jose Bellosillo the 10th overall pick.

Alvin Pasaol, who was tipped to go first overall in the draft, was still selected by the Skippers but as the 19th pick in the second round.

The other high-profile draft applicant, Arvin Tolentino, slipped to the seventh round, eventually getting selected by Che'Lu-San Sebastian, who took five Golden Stags in the draft.

Go For Gold-CSB loaded itself with 16 players, a mixture of its NCAA lineup and Team B players.

Perpetual Help and Akari-Adamson, the other two school-based teams for the new season starting Jan. 18, notified the league that they will send in their full lineup from the past NCAA and UAAP seasons respectively, leading to them passing in the draft.

Overall, 124 players, including those of the Altas and the Soaring Falcons, were drafted out of 201 applicants.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno