The PBA Board of Governors gave the green light Thursday to the staging of another special round for Gilas Pilipinas players in the annual Rookie Draft slated March 14.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio, who attended the afternoon meeting at the PBA Office in Libis as team governor of Meralco, welcomed the league’s approval for the special draft which allows Gilas to tap prospective players for its long-term program.
Panlilio said the Gilas coaching staff will be given the opportunity to look at the list of a record 97 applicants that can be tapped for the program.
“We asked the board to give us just a few days to take a look at the list and revert back to the PBA through the commissioner (Willie Marcial) on the list of players that we will be looking at to add to the Gilas pool,” Panlilio said in a virtual press conference following the league’s first board meeting for the calendar year.
“Definitely, we will look at players and choose from the existing draft who are qualified for the national team,” added Panlilio, who was joined by Marcial and Alaska team governor Dickie Bachmann in the 40-minute presscon.
Talks of a Gilas draft gained traction over the past few days after Ateneo’s Will Navarro, University of the Philippines’ Jaydee Tungcab and San Beda’s Calvin Oftana submitted their applications for the proceedings.
Tungcab is a regular part of the Gilas pool while Navarro and Oftana played during the twin victories over Thailand in the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last November in Bahrain.
The setup will be similar to the Gilas draft held in 2019 when Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi and brothers Matt and Mike Nieto were selected by five teams prior to the regular draft.
All five are still part of the pool, with the SBP having the option to release them to the teams that drafted.
A regular draft will follow the proceedings, with Terrafirma picking first followed by NorthPort and NLEX selecting third and fourth.
Completing the order are Rain or Shine, Magnolia, Alaska, San Miguel Beer, Meralco, Phoenix Super LPG, NorthPort (from TNT) and Philippine Cup champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Marcial said that the board will determine if the same order will be followed in the Gilas draft, since NLEX, for example, got the third pick of the regular draft from Blackwater as part of a three-team that sent Poy Erram to TNT in Feb. 2020.