SJ Belangel, other Filipino KBL imports back William Navarro
MANILA, Philippines — Korean Basketball League (KBL) imports RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel, and Justin Gutang as well as other global Filipino players stood with William Navarro after he didn’t get a clearance from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Seoul Samsung Thunders.
Abarrientos, who will play for Ulsan Hyundai Mobis in the 2022-23 KBL season, followed the suit of Gilas teammate Kai Sotto in encouraging everyone to support all Filipino talents overseas, instead of standing in their way.
“REALLY??? An impediment in someone’s dream? You all should SUPPORT Filipino athletes who are playing abroad. Similar to any other profession, you’ll do what’s best for your career! They are choosing to play and strengthen their ability while representing our country,” said the former Far Eastern University standout, who only played one UAAP season to pursue a professional career in South Korea.
Belangel, the first Filipino signed by a KBL team, Daegu Kogas, stressed that even though they play abroad, they are still bringing pride to the country by showcasing their talents.
“Always remember that we are still repping the Filipino Flag no matter where we play. We chose to play internationally not because we hate Philippine Basketball but because we are here to pursue every athlete’s dream to reach our fullest potential and even go beyond our dreams,” wrote the former Ateneo point guard Belangel. “Everyday, we are working hard to make our country proud, never saying that Philippine Basketball is the worst place to play in. As what Woody said, “Reach for the sky!” Do not settle with what we have or for what is working. Always aim for more!”
Ex-NCAA standout Justin Gutang, who will play for Changwon LG, also couldn’t hide his frustration hours after SBP released a statement saying that “Fiba issued its decision not to allow Navarro” due to his contract as NorthPort’s Gilas draftee in the PBA last year.
“It’s sad to see someone who’s worked so hard to get where they’re at now have their dreams taken away just like that. Is it that wrong for Filipino Athletes to choose playing abroad? Are they not allowed to choose a path that will benefit them along the way? I mean Filipino Athletes playing overseas are still representing the (Philippines),” the former College of Saint Benilde star said. “Everyone should spread love and positivity to all Athletes in every profession playing abroad. #Freewill.”
Ray Parks Jr. also rallied behind Navarro through his Instagram stories by reposting the quote cards of the global Filipino players, including Greg Slaughter’s tweet.
Anyang KGC’s Rhenz Abando and Japan B.League stars Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena also expressed their support by reposting Navarro’s picture wearing a Gilas jersey on their Instagram stories.
Converge guard Maverick Ahanmisi also took a shot at the , posting a TikTok with a filter riding in a police car.
“POV: PBA players as they implement more restrictions for playing abroad,” said Ahanmisi. “Let players choose what’s best for them and their families.”
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