THE newly recognized professional association Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) added another milestone in its development by holding its first-ever player draft at the weekend.

Done virtually last Saturday, 39 players were selected from a pool of 177 aspirants by teams, which are expected to compete this year in the first season as a pro of the WNBL.

Leading the roster of players drafted was former University of the Philippines standout and now-doctor Fille Claudine Cainglet, who was selected first by the Glutagence Glow Boosters in the draft presented by Chooks-to-Go and powered by Smar.

A 5-foot-2 guard, Ms. Cainglet, 32, played for the Fighting Maroons at the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) from seasons 69 to 73.

Ms. Cainglet was performing an operation at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Hospital in Quezon City as she followed the draft and heard of the news of her selection.

Joining Ms. Cainglet in the Glow Boosters are the “Splash Sisters” Camille Claro and Khate Castillo as they were Glutgence’s back-to-back picks in rounds two and three.

The rest of Glutagence’s picks were 5-foot-10 center Camille Sambile of Far Eastern University, 5-foot-10 big April Lualhati of Lyceum, 5-foot-7 forward Nic Cancio of Ateneo, 5-foot-10 center Carol Sangalang of University of Santo Tomas, 5-foot-6 guard Raiza Palmera-Dy of FEU, 5-foot-2 point guard Nicky Garcia of La Salle, 5-foot-4 forward Samantha Tan of UP, 5-foot-4 guard Ays Hufanda of UP, and 5-foot-1 guard Camille Ramos of La Salle.

STAN Quezon, meanwhile, picked up Dianne Ventura, Kat Araja, Jo Razalo, Angelica De Austria, Karla Manuel, Nikka Tupaz, Jade Valenzuela, Marika Iida, Veronica Lio, and Bienca Ramos.

Despite entering the draft at round three, Pacific Water was still able to nab burly forward Snow Peñaranda. It, too, was able to draft UAAP Season 82 Finals MVP Monique Del Carmen in the ninth round.

The Queens also got Cara Buendia, Elaisa Adriano, Crislyn Mier, Tin Cortizano, Nef Taller, Janella Alba, and Jinky Balasta.

Parañaque, an original from the first season of the WNBL, for its part, was able to make the most of their eight picks, selecting AJ Gloriani, Mary Joy Galicia, Jhenn Angeles, Vanessa Santos, Tanya De La Merced, Jenina Solis, Sthefanie Ventura, and Jaira Baarde.

In the lead-up to the draft, all the teams were given a chance to “protect” at most seven players, who would not go through the draft.

The WNBL was recognized as a pro league last year after getting its license from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

The league hopes to provide a platform for women players to showcase their skills and share their passion for basketball long after their collegiate careers are over.

Saturday’s draft was supervised by GAB, with its chairman Baham Mitra gracing the event. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo