Four teams in the PBA will get an opportunity to select a player in the special draft after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas added William Navarro to the list for next month’s Rookie Draft.
Navarro is a 6-foot-6 forward who played for the Ateneo Blue Eagles and is currently with the national team pool preparing for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers set here in Clark, Pampanga.
“The SBP strongly believes that the program we have now would give us the opportunity to build the best team possible for the FIBA Basketball World Cup,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.
“This is why it was important for us to get the commitment of talented players to join the pool.”
Panlilio said that Navarro initially begged off on the SBP offer to join the Gilas special draft, which already has Fil-Am Jordan Heading, UP’s Jaydee Tungcab and National University’s Tzaddy Rangel.
However, his solid plays at the bubble training camp with the national team convinced Navarro to stay with the Gilas program project under director Tab Baldwin – his Ateneo coach.
“His stint inside the Gilas Pilipinas training bubble has convinced him that this would be the best direction for his development as a basketball player,” Panlilio said.
Navarro’s original plan was to join the regular PBA Rookie Draft and probably play in the league in Season 46 starting in April.
However, being part of the special draft will allow four teams to pick the four players, including Navarro, and keep their rights since they will continue to stay with the national team preparing for the 2023 FIBA World Cup the country is co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia.
Due to the cancellation of the UAAP last season and the uncertainty of the league this year, Navarro decided to forfeit his final year of eligibility to play for Ateneo as he applied for the PBA Rookie Draft.
Prior to his decision, Navarro said he asked for the blessings of Baldwin.
“I asked for his advice, and coach Tab… he didn’t stop me,” Navarro said as he appeared on the weekly sports show The Chasedown last Saturday on One PH over Cignal TV.
Panlilio said that credit goes too to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial for the adjustments the SBP made on the special draft, which follows the order of picks in the regular draft with Terrafirma selecting first overall.
“Again, the SBP thanks the PBA Board of Governors and Commissioner Willie Marcial for their flexibility in this matter and for allowing Navarro to join the Gilas pool instead,” said Panlilio.
“We know that a lot of teams had their eyes on Navarro but the Board of Governors saw past that to consider the needs of Gilas. He will be the last addition to our pool to give the PBA teams enough time to map out their game-plan for upcoming draft,” he added.
Navarro, Heading, Tungcab and Rangel will join Isaac Go, Matt Nieto, Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte, and Allyn Bulanadi as full-time members of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. The five were selected in 2019 to the special draft.