For the second consecutive year, the PBA will be instituting a special Gilas Pilipinas draft.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio confirmed Thursday that the league has agreed to let the federation get first dibs on players from the 97-man list of hopefuls for the Rookie Draft set on Mar. 14.
Panlilio, however, said the SBP hasn't selected any players yet as the federation will still review the names from the deep pool of talents.
"I asked the commissioner and the board to give us a few days just to take a look at the list and revert back to the PBA on the list of players that we will be looking at for the Gilas pool," he said.
Among those expected to get strong looks for the special draft are Gilas cadets Calvin Oftana, Will Navarro and Jaydee Tungcab.
"It's a very strong draft, despite the fact that maybe the SBP will get a few names out of that draft," said Panlilio.
Five players were selected in last year's Gilas draft, with the drafting teams retaining the rights over these players until the SBP releases them from their commitments.
Added as full-time members of the Gilas pool were Isaac Go (Terrafirma), Rey Suerte (Blackwater), Matt Nieto (NLEX), Allyn Bulanadi (Alaska) and Mike Nieto (Rain or Shine). Only Bulanadi hasn't suited up in an official international game out of the five.
Terrafirma and NorthPort hold the top two picks this year. NLEX will draft back-to-back at three and four, with the Road Warriors owning the rights to Blackwater's first-round pick thanks to the three-team trade that sent Poy Erram to TNT last year.
Commissioner Willie Marcial said the league has yet to decide whether or not NLEX will also draft twice in the Gilas pool as a result.
"We'll take a look at SBP's proposal and then we'll call for another special board meeting. There are still a lot of questions so we'll look into it," he said.
Deadline for requirements for Fil-foreigners extended
The PBA has also given Fil-foreigners who applied for the draft until Mar. 5 to submit the necessary requirements proving their citizenship, Marcial bared.
"They can submit their papers until Mar. 5. But we won't accept new applicants," he explained. "Whatever our requirements before, they haven't changed."
Fil-foreign players are required to pass their Department of Justice (DOJ) affirmation and Bureau of Immigration (BI) certification to be able to make the final roster of draft applicants.
Of the 97 players who sent in their applications, a record-high of 31 were Fil-foreigners. Marcial said 18 have yet to complete their papers.
"I talked to other Fil-foreign players and they said they'll be able to get their requirements in time, so we'll see," Marcial said.
The previous high for Fil-foreign applicants was 15 in the 2015 Draft.