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ROS draftee Paul Varilla suits up for NLEX in tune-up vs TNT

Not getting a tender offer from Rain Or Shine, Paul Varilla could now have a new home in NLEX. Dennis Acosta (file photo)

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Paul Varilla was one of the surprise early selections in the recent Philippine Basketball Draft, ending up as the 13th overall pick, the first for the second round, by Rain Or Shine.

But on Saturday, the former Batangas City player was in an NLEX uniform in a friendly game against TNT at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center.

As revealed by Coach Yeng Guiao after the game, the Elasto Painters did not sign Varilla up, opening a chance for the Road Warriors to acquire his services.

"I'm happy that they took me at that pick. I'm really thankful that they chose me. They saw something in me. But that's how it is sometimes," Varilla said about ROS's decision to let him go.

As aforementioned, NLEX wasted no time in bringing Varilla to its fold.

"I think It was two days before Christmas," Varilla recalled the time Guiao called him up for NLEX practice.

Six days after his first practice, Varilla suited up and even played for the team in its tune-up game with TNT.

Varilla finished with four points in the 95-90 win, a proof that he is still in the process of adjusting to the PBA brand of play.

But for him, part of that can also be attributed to a shift in position.

"There [in Batangas City], I play like the four or the three, and now I'm just gonna be playing the three," Varilla added. "In that position, there's more movement within the system which I'm willing to learn from Coach Yeng. Any position that he makes me to play, I'm willing to learn and give my best on it."

Good thing, the Road Warriors have its prime winger, Larry Fonacier, to help Varilla in his transition.

Obviously, I can learn a lot from him in everything I need to improve my game and to help the team in any way.

"He's treating me so nicely. He's really helping me out in learning the wing, how to turn the corners, how to read the defense, how to keep the spacing. He's just very nice. He's being that veteran that really got me to this process," Varilla continued.

Varilla, along with fellow rookies Kyles Lao and Kris Porter, got a tender offer from NLEX, so the team got its right for Varilla, although the said PBA freshmen have not formally signed a contract yet.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno