Rich draft may be richer

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

The next PBA draft looms to be a rich hunting ground on March 14 and may be richer if the Board of Governors allows Fil-foreigners with Philippine passports to join even if they’re not able to submit a Department of Immigration (DI) certificate of recognition and Department of Justice (DOJ) affirmation.

So far, the word is these blue-chip or semi blue-chip rookies are lining up for the draft – 6-4 Joshua Munzon, 6-7 Jaime Malonzo, 6-2 Alvin Pasaol, 6-5 Santi Santillan, 6-6 Troy Rike, 6-1 Jerrick Ahanmisi, 6-2 Jordan Heading, 6-6 Ben Adamos, 6-6 Tzaddy Rangel, 6-5 Jun Bonsubre, 5-11 Andrei Caracut, 5-10 Philip Manalang, 6-2 Franky Johnson, 6-2 Joshua Torralba, 6-9 James Laput, 5-10 Anton Asistio and 6-5 Larry Muyang. There’s also the possibility of 6-1 Juan Gomez de Liaño throwing his hat in the derby since he took out a Special Guest License from GAB to play in the recent Chooks To Go 3x3 pro league and UAAP doesn’t recognize it as an exception to stay amateur. Besides, UAAP has cancelled this season so De Liaño might just forego his remaining UP eligibility and turn pro. Another possibility is 6-2 Thirdy Ravena, now playing in the Japanese league.

UAAP’s decision to cancel this season means it will return in September. Collegiate players who are ripe for the PBA may decide to join the pro ranks instead of waiting nine months for the next UAAP season. Under PBA rules, a player may join the draft once he’s 22. A player who is under 22 but has finished his college education may also apply.

Fil-foreigners holding Philippine passports without a DI certificate or DOJ affirmation are 6-foot Jason Brickman, 6-4 Jeremiah Gray and 6-7 Brandon Rosser. They’ve been unable to secure the DI and DOJ documents because of a change in interpretation of when a foreign-born person of Filipino descent may claim dual citizenship. Brickman, 29, is a prized catch as he twice led the US NCAA in assists. Rosser, 26, is San Miguel Beer player Matt’s brother. “Brickman, Gray and Rosser all have Philippine passports so hopefully, the PBA will let them in,” said player agent Charlie Dy. “Matt was born here while Brandon was born in the US since their parents left after the Pinatubo eruption. I hope the PBA will allow those with Philippine passports to join the draft. The passports were issued by our government so that is proof enough of their Philippine citizenship. We also have to globalize.” Obviously, there is a technicality involved because Matt is recognized as a local and Brandon isn’t yet they’re brothers.

The deadline to apply for the draft is Jan. 27 whether local or Fil-foreign. On Jan. 29, the PBA will issue a preliminary list of prospective draftees. The contestability period for Fil-foreign players is on Feb. 1 to March 1. The PBA will release a list of eligible Fil-foreign applicants on March 9. A draft combine will be held on March 10-11, if possible. The final cast of draft eligibles will be released on March 12 or two days before the draft.

SBP will likely hold on to the first five picks like in the previous draft where Terrafirma’s Isaac Go, Blackwater’s Rey Suerte, NLEX’ Matt Nieto, Alaska’s Allyn Bulanadi and Rain or Shine’s Mike Nieto were seconded to Gilas. In the coming draft, the top five picks belong to Terrafirma, NorthPort, NLEX (from Blackwater), NLEX and Rain or Shine. If Brickman enters the draft, he won’t be a Gilas option because of FIBA restrictions and neither will be Fil-foreigners who were issued their passports after turning 16. It’s possible that some of the players loaned to Gilas from the previous draft may be reverted back to their mother PBA teams.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said at the moment, the draft eligibility requirement is Fil-foreigners must show a Philippine passport with BI and DOJ documents. But because of difficult circumstances due to the pandemic, will the Board ease the restriction and allow Fil-foreigners to join with only Philippine passports? Whatever is the decision, Marcial invited all Fil-foreigners to turn in their applications by Jan. 29. It will be during the contestability period when the Fil-foreign applications are sorted out.

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