No outright Blackwater stint for Banchero

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Filipino-Italian guard Chris Banchero won’t go straight to Blackwater Sports after all as the PBA D-League sets its first rookie draft on Sept. 19.

The Elite had tapped Banchero, who already suited up for the team’s friendly games in Bacolod City two weeks ago, in a bid to boost their back-to-back title bid starting next season on Oct. 24 at Ynares Sports Arena.

But the league now requires new players to submit an application from Aug. 27 to Sept. 12.

Varsity players who will play for a school-based team need not go through the draft.

“Team representatives were briefed on the rules and mechanics of the draft, as well as other league policies and new playing rules,” said Rickie Santos, PBA director for operations.

Banchero is expected to be the top choice after bagging the Finals Most Valuable Player award in San Miguel Beer’s championship romp in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last June.

But the former Seattle Pacific University standout still needs to see action in the D-League to be eligible for next year’s PBA draft.

The pro league requires foreign players with Filipino roots aged 25 and below to play at least two conferences in its developmental tournament before applying for the PBA draft.

Blackwater reportedly had signed up Banchero and may just offer a trade deal to the team that drafts him.

Santos said the drafting order will be based on the team’s length of stay in the league and rankings in the last two conferences. Thus, Café France will pick first followed by Cebuana Lhuillier, Boracay Rum, Big Chill, Blackwater and four-time champion NLEX.

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