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Desiderio jumps to 4th pick as surprises cap Round 1 of PBA Draft

NLEX pulled a surprise by drafting Paul Desiderio at number four. Dennis Acosta

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Surprises are something that Philippine Basketball Association fans should expect in the league's annual draft.

But only a few saw what NLEX did with the pick it got a from a trade with Phoenix coming.

And it all started with Coach Yeng Guiao hurling "Amin 'to!" before naming his team's pick.

The Road Warriors stunned the Robinson's Place Manila atrium on Sunday night when they chose Paul Desiderio as the fourth overall pick of the draft.

Desiderio, a last-minute entrant as he and Diego Dario made the most of the extension given by the league in the draft application period, was projected by mock drafts to be just barely inside the Top 10.

However, NLEX pulled the trigger in the first of its two first rounders and took Desiderio, who led the University of the Philippines' turnaround from a moribund UAAP team to a championship contender and became known for his "atin 'to" mantra.

The Road Warriors eventually drafted Abu Tratter, the player the mock drafts thought should be the fourth pick, with its other first round pick, the seventh pick, as Meralco used the fifth pick on Trevis Jackson and Rain Or Shine got Javee Mocon with the sixth pick.

Jackson being at the Top 5 is itself a surprise too as the mock drafts also had him somewhere just before the 10th pick.

Alaska pulled its own stunner with the ninth overall pick as the team took MJ Ayaay, who is not even projected to make the first round as per mock drafts.

Columbian had its own shock pick with the 11th overall selection by drafting JP Calvo, another non-projected first rounder in mock drafts whose stock rose when he won the Most Valuable Player award in the PBA Draft Combine last midweek.

Rounding out the first round, the Elasto Painters used the eighth overall pick on JJay Alejandro, Magnolia drafted Mike Calisaan 10th overall, and Phoenix landed Jorey Napoles 12th overall.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno