PBA to hold split draft for Gilas
(The Philippine Star) - October 3, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – SBP president Al Panlilio said yesterday it’s 95 percent sure that the PBA will conduct a split draft on Oct. 30, meaning two separate pools of rookie applicants with the 12 pro teams choosing from one batch of 12 Gilas players and one group of all other aspirants.

Panlilio discussed the options of assimilating at least 12 Gilas players into the annual draft with the PBA Board of Governors in a meeting last Thursday. He previously conferred with PBA team owners and a PBA ad-hoc committee formed to look into the possible draft formats. The ad-hoc committee is composed of PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa, former PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio of TNT KaTropa, PBA governor Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra and PBA governor Atty. Mamerto Mondragon of Rain Or Shine.

“It’s a great step towards forging a strong collaboration between the PBA and SBP in strengthening our Gilas program,” said Panlilio. “(FIBA secretary-general) Mr. (Patrick) Baumann has often mentioned the importance of a framework within which to establish a long-term working relationship between the PBA and SBP, particularly with the new FIBA competitive system kicking in next year. I think our format for the coming draft is a clear indication that we’re headed in that direction.”

Narvasa said some kinks are still being ironed out in the draft mechanics as it will be the first time ever to involve two pools of players. He said the details will be finalized in two weeks. Like Panlilio, Narvasa welcomed the development of a “permanent solution” to the Gilas program as a joint undertaking of the SBP and PBA. Narvasa said the two basic alternatives involved two split pools and a common draft.

Panlilio said a lot of discussion went into the format. “Before the meeting, I spoke with (Alaska team owner) Fred (Uytengsu) on the phone from 30 to 45 minutes,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I had his inputs. At the Board meeting, several options were taken up. One was to conduct a blind draft for the Gilas players, meaning the order is determined by luck with the 12 teams picking lottery balls. Another was to conduct a modified blind draft where the latest expansion teams Blackwater and Mahindra would get more chances than the others to improve their draft standing. In the end, the Board decided to use the order of merit system based on performance.”

Panlilio said the Board considered two options on the order of merit system. The first was to determine performance over the last two seasons with weights assigned to each conference. The second was to look at performance of this season only with the ranking based on 40 percent for the Philippine Cup and 30 percent each for the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors Cup. The performance ranking would be the reverse order of the draft where the lowest team takes the first pick. Panlilio said the second option of using this season’s performance as a basis was approved.

Panlilio added that a Gilas player drafted by a PBA team may see action in the PBA when he’s not needed for the national squad. But two months before a FIBA competition where the player may be recalled for training, he will be pulled out of the PBA. He said the SBP will shoulder the salary of the Gilas player when he’s out of the PBA.

The list of 12 Gilas players available for the split draft will be submitted to the PBA by Oct. 10. Panlilio said he expects Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks to be in the pool. Other shoo-ins are Mac Belo, Kevin Ferrer, Roger Pogoy, Mike Tolomia and Russell Escoto. It’s not certain if the pool will include Fil-foreigners being recruited to try out for Gilas from overseas.

Aside from the split draft, Panlilio said the PBA has agreed for every team to cede one player to the Gilas pool of 24. The choice of which PBA player to enlist is up to the Gilas head coach. Panlilio said it’s still not decided who will be the next Gilas head coach. Chot Reyes was at the Gilas helm for the FIBA Asia Championships in 2013, the FIBA World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in 2014. Tab Baldwin was the Gilas head coach at the FIBA Asia Championships last year and the recent FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Reyes’ son Josh was the Gilas head coach at the FIBA Asia Challenge last month.

“Tab, of course, is an option and could also be our consultant like he was during the FIBA Asia Championships in 2013 and the FIBA World Cup in Spain in 2014,” said Panlilio. “Right now, we’re keeping our options open.” Panlilio said the decision will go through SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan.

Some details of the mechanics still being ironed out include when to pull out a PBA player for Gilas training, what to do if a PBA team volunteers more than one player to the Gilas pool and which entity will shoulder a PBA player’s salary while with Gilas and if he will forego bonuses with his PBA team when he’s away. From the tenor of the discussions, it appears that any PBA player picked for the Gilas pool will join without hesitation because of the league’s commitment to the SBP.

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