William Navarro was initially not part of the Gilas round of the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft.
Last Friday, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas had requested only cadet Jaydee Tungcab, and newbies Jordan Heading and Tzaddy Rangle from the league.
However, the 24-year-old Navarro – who declared for the draft last January 23 – had a sudden change of heart. And it came after the team left INSPIRE Sports Academy last Saturday.
“At first, I was having a hard time kasi I didn’t really have the time to decide talaga,” admitted Navarro, who was inside the Calambubble from January 10. The league set a January 27 deadline for draft hopefuls.
“Busy kami sa mga practice and preparing for the FIBA Asia games, kaya medyo magulo pa decision ko that time.”
After training with the national team for 34 days, the 6-foot-6 utility forward had a realization – playing for flag and country is a different experience.
“What made me decide to join the Gilas Draft is the opportunity ito to be part of the national team. Not everyone is being given the opportunity to join.”
Fortunately for Navarro, the PBA allowed him to join the Gilas draft after the SVP sent a request.
For Navarro, the last three years he has spent with Ateneo head coach and Gilas program director Tab Baldwin have been short. And so he can’t wait to learn from him more in the next couple of years.
“Really happy to be coached by him again because he is the reason why I am where I am right now.
“I know na he has plans for us and he will really help us improve as individuals din,” said the UAAP Season 82 Most Improved Player awardee.
With four players in the Gilas draft, only four teams can pick in that round – beginning with Terrafirma and NorthPort. Meanwhile, NLEX holds the last two picks of the round.
Navarro is not picky over who ends up picking him, stressing that having a PBA team is an honor in itself.
“As long as gusto ako ng coach and magamit sa laro, okay na sa akin. I’m sure naman na I’ll be able to help the team in any way.”