Gilas hopefuls still in waiting mode as PBA, SBP yet to finalize special draft mechanics

Although Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said the special draft for Gilas 5.0 players is already “95 percent sure”, members of the national team are still in a waiting mode as to what will really transpire come draft day.

Former college standouts Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Russell Escoto, along with Kevin Ferrer, Jio Jalalon, Fil-American Mathew Wright and Arnold Van Opstal have already signified their intention to be part of the new Gilas squad that will be competing in future international tournaments.

Player agent Marvin Espiritu, who represents several players like Ferrer, Jalalon and Wright, said the PBA and the SBP have yet to come out with a clear-cut guideline regarding the special draft.

“Naka-waiting mode pa ang mga players, pero naka-commit na naman sila (to play for Gilas) since August,” Espiritu told FOX Sports on Wednesday.

“Hinihintay lang nila ang guidelines na manggagaling sa PBA and SBP, so from there, dun lang nila makikita saan ba talaga direksyon ng special draft.” he added.

Based on the framework the PBA and SBP are working on, each team is assured to pick one from the Gilas pool depending on its standing from the 41st season without taking to account the draft trade rights.

On the other hand, the regular draft will involve rookie hopefuls who wish to turn pro. The application deadline for rookie hopefuls as been moved to Oct. 19, at 5 p.m. with former Far Eastern University forward Carl Bryan Cruz, ex-National University guard Gelo Alolino and Mapua Cardinal standout Joseph Eriobu leading the 26 applicants thus far.

While things remain hazy as far as what will transpire in the special draft, Espiritu said players, who have made their three-year commitment to the Gilas program hope they will simply compete in international tournaments.

For one, news that the new batch of Gilas members will more likely playing for two conferences in the PBA next season once drafted, created somewhat of a confusion among the incoming rookies.

“Sa news lang talaga namin nalalaman na maglalaro na rin sila ng at least two conferences sa PBA next season, pero yung nga, magandang hintayin na lang talaga muna ano ba ang guidelines para sa special draft,” he said.

“Kasi malaking pabor din naman sa mga players (not to play in the PBA) para hindi sila masyado mabugbog since some of the players, they want to concentrate on playing for the national team and international games, para mabatak din sila,” explained the co-founder of the EMBM, a sports management group.

PBA commissioner Chit Narvasa, however, clarified that the idea of playing for two conferences among rookies coming from the special draft is not cast in stone.

“Wala pang final. Hindi pa kasi clear yung mechanics ng draft eh. Marami pang kailangang ayusin kasi di naman puwede kung ano-ano na lang,” Narvasa said. “We’re looking for a permanent solution that’s why it’s taking a bit longer.”

The change of draft application deadline from Friday to Oct. 19 has something to do with the ongoing discussion between the PBA and the SBP.

Parks and Ravena

Outside Belo and Co., two other big names from the amateur ranksBobby Ray Parks and Kiefer Ravenaare also being eyed strongly by PBA teams.

Blackwater coach Leo Isaac said he’d strongly suggest to management to select Parks in the special draft should the left-handed former National University star be available.

The Elite will actually pick first in both the special and regular drafts.

On the other hand, Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia said they are also awaiting word if Parks and Ravena will be part of the special draft, citing the two as “exciting players”.

“We hope that both Ray Parks and Kiefer Ravena will decides to enter the PBA draft to even make it more exciting,” said Vanguardia, who will pick second in the special draft.

“I think both can still chase their NBA dreams even if they get drafted in the PBA.  I’m sure the team that will get them will be open if ever there is an opportunity.”

Over the past months, Parks and Ravena have been training in the United States in their pursuit of their respective NBA dreams.

The six-foot Ravena has actually spent a few days in Manila since helping Mighty Sports to a runner-up finish in the 2016 Merlion Cup in Singapore. But people close to Ravena said the former UAAP MVP is set to return to the U.S. to continue his training. – Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava