PBA warns draft dodgers of total ban
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MILAN – Players who are eligible for the PBA draft but choose to defer their applications face a total ban from ever seeing action in the pro league if they decide to pass two years in a row. It’s a rule that was approved by the PBA Board of Governors in 2018 and while there is an open window for reconsideration, players may be subject to a long wait if they appeal their prohibition after dodging the draft twice.

Deputy commissioner Eric Castro confirmed the other day a player must be at least 22 to be eligible for the draft. If a player has graduated from college and is less than 22, he, too, will be eligible. Under the rules, a player has to apply for the draft within two years from when he exhausted his collegiate eligibility of five years. A player who has finished college and decides to pursue a Master’s degree must join the draft within a year from completing his post-graduate course.

Alvin Pasaol, Thirdy Ravena and Santi Santillan are examples of former college players who are no longer eligible to play for the varsity and are of age to apply for the PBA draft. Ravena, however, has chosen to forego submitting his name for the PBA draft to entertain offers to play in Japan and Australia. Pasaol and Santillan signed contracts to play in the Chooks To Go 3x3 league and MPBL. If the three players do not apply for the draft this year, they’ll be banned because they will have skipped two straight years.

Castro said if only one D-League conference is held before a draft, the requirements are local players must have logged at least seven games and Fil-foreigners, nine. With two D-League conferences before a draft, the requirements are at least seven games for locals and 14 for Fil-foreigners.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said there are no restrictions for MPBL players to join the PBA, regardless of how many comebacks they’ve made. Players with MPBL contracts are constrained to finish their obligations before moving to the PBA. Ginebra draft pick Kent Salado, for instance, has an MPBL contract even if he’s never been paid. His contract will expire when the Lakan Cup ends, clearing the way for his jump. Magnolia draft pick Aris Dionisio is in the same boat. He won’t be able to join the Hotshots until his MPBL contract runs out. A coach who is both with the PBA and MPBL will be made to choose either or by the PBA. 

During the press briefing after the PBA Board of Governors planning session and meeting here Thursday, chairman Ricky Vargas said expansion will always be an option. However, Marcial said if the league expands, there will be the problem of committing 145 double header dates over three conferences. Vargas said a possibility is to play two longer conferences each year. “We’re not soliciting,” he said. “But companies are asking our governors. Until there is an application for a franchise, we won’t think of expansion at the moment. Of course, expansion will give more employment and that’s a good thing.”

In the 3x3 tournament, the PBA will gather the 12 resident teams and consider the applications of Mighty Sports and Dunkin’ Donuts to play. There is interest from one more team to join. Two groups are sending feelers to apply for a regular PBA franchise but Vargas said no formal application has been submitted.

Since the second window of the FIBA Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifiers will be in November running smack into the PBA calendar, Meralco governor and SBP president Al Panlilio said the Gilas nucleus will not be composed of pros. He said the new coach may want to tap only three or five PBA players in which case, there will be no major adjustment in the schedule.

“We’ve confirmed the PBA schedule,” said Marcial. “We know the second window is in November when the Governors Cup will be playing. If Gilas calls up three or five players, it won’t be necessary to adjust the entire schedule. Instead, we’ll adjust those players’ team schedules to allow them time to prepare and play for Gilas. We won’t stop the conference to make way for the second window.”

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