SBP allays fears of player exodus to PBA
MANILA—The PBA Rookie Draft is close at hand but Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios would like to think that Smart Gilas players aren’t giving serious thought about it.
“I don’t want to say that they’re joining the draft because it’s tantamount to accepting that we’re not going to qualify for the Olympics,” Barrios said during yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s UN Avenue.
The pro league’s annual draft is scheduled in August, a month before the Sept. 15 to 25 Fiba Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, where the national team is going all out for the lone continental slot in the 2012 London Olympics.
“If we make it to the Olympics, there’s no sense in breaking up the team,” Barrios said in the same sports forum sponsored by Shakey’s, Pagcor, Accel and Outlast Battery.
The former PBA commissioner said the Rajko Toroman-mentored Nationals are focused on playing in several international tournaments to prepare for the Asian championship.
“We’d better not discuss the draft because it will only discourage the players,” Barrios cautioned. “Who knows, we could get lucky and be in the Olympics.”
Nobody yet from the Smart Gilas core that includes skipper Chris Tiu, Mark Barroca, Mac Baracael, JV Casio, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Dylan Ababou and Jason Ballesteros has openly expressed intention to join the PBA draft.
Once drafted, though, Smart Gilas players will be required to simultaneously serve the national team and the ballclub that selected them.
Only naturalized player Marcus Douthit will be left in the Smart Gilas program if the rest of the players jump to the pros, a possibility that would prompt the SBP to elevate another set of players from the developmental pool.
The Smart Gilas core of players is considered new compared to the Iranians, who have been playing for the team since 2005. The Iran program has allowed the team to capture back-to-back Fiba Asia Championships and clinch a seat in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
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