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Sports

SBP firm on Navarro’s case

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, (SBP) stood firm in its decision to shelve Gilas Pilipinas cadet Will Navarro’s stint in the Korean Basketball League (KBL) due to an “existing contract” the young 6-foot-6 forward has to honor.

In a statement released yesterday, the SBP said it’s all for the players’ liberty to bring their act overseas so long as it observes the process including fulfilling obligations to any and all agreements.

“The SBP respects players’ rights to look for greener pastures. But players also need to respect agreements they have entered into with their teams,” said Sonny Barrios, SBP executive director and spokesperson.

“The SBP does not intend to unduly prevent players from furthering their careers with other teams here or overseas. But it is a fundamental and ethical practice for players to honor their existing contracts with their mother teams. ”

Navarro, 25, after his stint with Ateneo in the UAAP, last year entered into a contract with the SBP after being picked by NorthPort in the special PBA-Gilas rookie draft. But last July, he committed to play for Seoul Samsung Thunders in the KBL.

To play in the KBL, he has to secure a Letter of Clearance (LOC) from the SBP which was not eventually granted as the federation cited his existing contract and “undeniable agreement, be assigned to only and no other team or ballclub than his PBA drafting team.”

FIBA, the world basketball governing body, has decided on the matter in favor of SBP in a resolution earlier this week halting Navarro’s Seoul transfer due to the “existing, legally binding contract.”

Navarro is among the growing list of players who have opted to play overseas after the likes of Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks,  Matthew Wright,  Greg Slaughter and Dwight Ramos in Japan, SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos and Rhenz Abando in Korea as well as Ricci Rivero in Taiwan.

The development drew a strong reaction from Gilas big man Kai Sotto, who’s with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australia NBL.

“I’m sorry but this is crazy. This has to stop. You got players who’ve been working hard and dreaming to play basketball at the highest level they can reach and we got our own people stopping us from achieving greatness,” said Sotto.

SBP

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