For the second straight year and third time in PBA history, a special Gilas draft will likely take place in the 2021 edition of the PBA rookie festivities.
According to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chief Al Panlilio, it’s part of the commitment the PBA has with Gilas Pilipinas for the build-up to the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“That was the agreement. I think every draft now, they will give the SBP a crack at certain players that we want to put in the pool,” Panlilio told Sports Page.
Last season, the quintet of Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi, and the Nieto twins were drafted first. Top pick Go was selected by Terra Firma, Suerte went to Blackwater, Matt was picked by NLEX, Bulanadi headed to Alaska, while Mike was taken by Rain or Shine.
The year 2016, on the other hand, saw Mac Belo, Jio Jalalon, Matthew Wright, Russel Escoto, Von Pessumal, Fonzo Gotladera, Arnold Van Opstal, Ed Daquioag, Roger Pogoy, Mike Tolomia, Kevin Ferrer, Carl Cruz, and Von Pessumal get drafted.
The drafting of Gilas cadets is separate from the regular draft proper.
Salaries of the Gilas pool members are split by both the federation and their mother teams for a certain amount of time.
But with Gilas already having five players in its pool, Panlilio revealed that it might be forced to send some of the original five back to their PBA teams.
“We can only manage a certain number of players.
“As we enter the next draft, if we pick three, four, five players, then most probably we’ll have to ask some of the players to go back to the PBA now and play for their mother teams. The arrangement, really, was for them to have a mother team, that’s why the drafting was done. So when the SBP is ready to release them, they would know where to go, which PBA team they would go to. So that would continue,” said the amiable executive, who is also the governor of Meralco.
All this is not yet final, however, as the league’s board of governors are meeting on Thursday to discuss the upcoming rookie draft.
“We only had one conference this year, so I don’t know what commissioner Willie Marcial will be recommending to the board. I’m looking forward to having that discussion.”
From the Gilas cadets that competed during the Manama window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, those eligible to enter the draft include UP’s Jaydee Tungcab, Javi and Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Kobe Paras; Ateneo’s William Navarro; San Beda’s Calvin Oftana; and La Salle’s Justine Baltazar.
Owning the top four picks in the upcoming draft are Terra Firma, Northport, Blackwater, and NLEX, in that order. Despite trading their regular pick to NLEX, Blackwater will still be eligible to pick in the Gilas draft.