Chooks pros may join PBA draft

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Now that Chooks to Go’s 3x3 league has turned pro, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said the other day players will still go through the process of joining the draft if they intend to see action in the PBA and conform to the rule of applying within two years of their eligibility.

Under PBA rules, a player has to apply for the PBA draft within a period of two years from the time he exhausted his college eligibility (maximum of five years of college) and if he fails to do so, he shall be declared ineligible to join the draft. Additionally, a player who already finished a four-year college course and decides to pursue a two-year masteral degree must join the PBA draft within one year from earning the degree and if he fails to do so, shall be declared ineligible to join the draft. A draft applicant must be at least 22 or a graduate of a four-year college course, if younger. A player who is at least 22 may join the draft even without graduating from college and is also subject to the two-year period of eligibility. The draft rules were incorporated in a memorandum to the Board of Governors dated Dec. 7, 2018.

Although a Chooks player applying for the PBA draft is technically a pro, he may be eligible for Rookie of the Year honors. Ginebra guard Stanley Pringle played as an import in Belgium, Poland, Ukraine and Indonesia before joining the PBA draft in 2014 at 27. He was named PBA Rookie of the Year in 2015. San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo played for San Miguel in the ABL before entering the PBA draft in 2012 and was runner-up to Calvin Abueva for Rookie of the Year honors in 2013. With Pringle and Fajardo as precedents, Chooks players should be eligible for the Rookie of the Year derby even if already pros.

Chooks players, however, should realize that their period of eligibility to apply for the PBA draft is only two years. Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike and Santi Santillan, for instance, were eligible for the PBA draft last year but opted out. If they choose not to join the next draft, they will be declared ineligible to play in the PBA for good.

GAB chairman Baham Mitra said he’s aware of the two-year rule that was made to protect the PBA from players choosing which team will pick them in the draft. “We don’t want to intrude into the PBA’s internal rules,” he said. “I’m sure the PBA put the rules in to protect the league. Sana live and let live lang but I made it clear I’m not imposing.”

Marcial said if players aren’t able to apply for the draft within the two-year prescribed period for a justifiable reason, the PBA may make exceptions if approved by the Board. The key is for a player to make his situation known to the PBA as in Thirdy Ravena’s case. If a player decides not to consult the PBA and allows the two-year eligibility period to lapse, he will be subject to a ban. The PBA’s objective is to preserve the draft’s integrity.

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