Special or regular? Gilas pool player Navarro mulling PBA draft path to tread

William Navarro, the 6’6” center from Ateneo would have played for the Blue Eagles for at least one more season, but his plans were stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced most major basketball leagues in the world to cancel their seasons.

Special or regular? Gilas pool player Navarro mulling PBA draft path to tread
William Navarro

The UAAP wasn’t spared and uncertainty remains on the resumption of the country’s premier collegiate basketball league.

Navarro, also a member of the Gilas Pilipinas national pool, believes it’s the right time to move up and enter the PBA, where he is listed as one of the top prospects from the 97 applicants, hoping to land a spot in Asia’s pioneering professional basketball league.   

“The main reason for me joining is because of the UAAP, wala kasing assurance kung kailan mag-start. Kaya sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘maybe it’s time na rin siguro.’ Ang tagal ko na rin kasi sa college, tumatanda na rin at doon rin naman pupunta. So I talked to my coaches, the Ateneo community and I was asking for their advice, then I made a decision,” said Navarro during his interview with The Link Podcast.

Navarro will be one of the most sought-after big men from among the PBA aspirants, but that would also depend where he would end up.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas recently announced that they requested the PBA to come up with another special draft for Gilas players, which means that Navarro and the other two draft applicants — forward Calvin Oftana and guard Jaydee Tungcab — might be included in the special draft.

But the inclusion of Gilas players in the Special Draft won’t be compulsory as Navarro confirmed that he was asked by Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin whether he wants to continuously be a part of the Gilas program and include him in the special draft or he will join the regular draft.

Navarro added that other than Baldwin, he hasn’t talked with anyone regarding his PBA draft plans as he is more focused of his training with Gilas. The national team is currently preparing for the next FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers window to be held in Qatar late this month.   

“Hindi ko pa talaga sila (SBP) nakakausap and they haven’t talked to me yet. Si Coach Tab pa lang. Anything can happen. I’m still thinking about it. Advantage nga kung special draft kasi Philippine team ‘yung niri-represent mo.  Pero wala pa akong decision. I’m still weighing my options pa. I’ve talked to my parents, some of the coaches, but wala pa talaga akong decision. It will come,” added Navarro.    

Oftana’s agent, PJ Pilares, also clarified that even though there’s an agreement between the PBA and the SBP regarding the inclusion of Gilas players in the special draft, the players still have a choice whether to join it or not.      

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