By Adrian Stewart Co
Former Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles center William Navarro has been included in the list of special Gilas Pilipinas draft during the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft on March 14.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio said that the 6-foot-6 center had a change of heart following his participation in the Gilas bubble training in Calamba, Laguna.
“(Navarro) initially begged off from the special draft, but his stint inside the Gilas bubble has convinced him that this would be the best direction for his development as a basketball player,” Panlilio said.
“The SBP strongly believes the program we have now would give us the opportunity to build the best team possible for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup,” he added. “This is why it’s important for us to get the commitment of talented players to join the pool.”
According to Panlilio, Navarro will be fourth and final addition to the Gilas draft roster aside from Fil-Ams Jordan Heading and Tzaddy Rangel as well as former University of the Philippines guard Frederick Tungcab.
The SBP has previously asked the PBA board of governors to allow it to name a ‘minimum of three and maximum of five players’ for inclusion in this year’s special Gilas draft but only four were convinced to joining.
Terrafirma Dyip will have the first shot at picking among the fourth Gilas special draftees, followed by NorthPort Batang Pier and NLEX Road Warriors, which will be picking twice.
“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,” Panlilio said.
“We know 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 their game-plan for the upcoming draft,” he added.
Last year, Gilas had five players in PBA special draft in George Isaac Go by the Dyip, brothers Matt and Mike Nieto of Road Warriors and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, respectively, Allyn Bulanadi of Alaska Aces and Rey Suerte of Blackwater Elite./ASC, WDJ