Will Navarro can’t play in Korea as Fiba upholds Gilas contract
MANILA, Philippines—The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on Sunday afternoon said it has decided to bar Gilas draftee William Navarro from joining a club in the Korea Basketball League (KBL).
“After carefully reviewing the positions of the KBA and the SBP, Fiba issued its decision on September 12, 2022, not to allow Mr. Navarro to join the Samsung Thunders,” the national federation said in a statement on Sunday.
The SBP said that the international cage body upheld that Navarro, a product of the famed Ateneo Blue Eagles program, still has an existing, legally-binding contract that is preventing him from playing with the Korean pro team.
Navarro’s Gilas contract stipulates that he “(plays) for the national team, attend activities, practices and social and business functions and with his undeniable agreement, be assigned only and no other team or ballclub than his (Philippine Basketball Association) drafting”
Navarro first broke into this basketball-crazed nation’s consciousness when he played for the Philippine youth team under Jamike Jarin in the Fiba Asia U-18 Championship in Doha, Qatar, eight years ago.
Born to Filipino parents and raised in Greece, the versatile forward played for the junior team of Greek pro squad Panathinaikos. He went on to play for San Beda, and then Ateneo under coach Tab Baldwin where he won multiple championships in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. His Blue Eagles stint coincided with a gig with the national team program.
He was formally drafted into the men’s senior team in 2021 by way of a special PBA-SBP selection process that includes Tzaddy Rangel, Jaydee Tungcab, and Jordan Heading. Navarro was selected by the NorthPort Batang Pier.
It could be recalled that Heading opted to play in Taiwan back in February, with the SBP also sounding an alarm on a conflict in the player’s commitment to the Gilas program.
Heading, who fell short of a title in the T1 League, will now play in the B.League in Japan.
“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,” the statement added.
The development comes on the heels of an earlier report that Navarro has been denied by the SBP from turning pro in Korea, where fellow young Gilas players are also plying their trade.
Navarro signed a contract with Samsung back in July, joining a crop of Gilas players that include Far Eastern University’s RJ Abarrientos, Letran’s Rookie-Most Valuable Player Rhenz Abando, and Ateneo teammate SJ Belangel.