ADD former Ateneo center William Navarro to the players the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will tab in the special Gilas Pilipinas draft on March 14.
The 6-foot-6 Navarro will join former University of the Philippines wingman Jaydee Tungcab, Fil-Australian Jordan Heading, and former National University big man Tzaddy Rangel as Gilas draftees in the proceedings likely to be held online due to the restrictions posed by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
The SBP originally wanted to choose five to six players in the special draft but will only have four.
SBP president Al Panlilio said Navarro initially begged off from joining Gilas but his stint as part of the national team training pool prompted him to have a change of heart.
“The SBP strongly believes that the program we have now would give us the opportunity to build the best team possible for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup,” Panlilio said.
“This is why it was important for us to get the commitment of talented players to join the pool. William Navarro initially begged off from joining but his stint inside the Gilas Pilipinas training bubble has convinced him that this would be the best direction for his development as a basketball player,” he added.
The 6-foot-3 Tungcab was a former gunner for Adamson University in UAAP juniors play. He played for the Soaring Falcons for two years before moving to the Fighting Maroons.
He also saw action for Batangas-Tanduay in the MPBL and was a member of the national team training pool last year.
Tungcab was set to suit up as an import for Koshigaya Alphas in the second division of the Japan B. League late last year but the pandemic forced him to scrap his plans.
Heading, a 6-foot-2 guard, is a California Baptist University product and played for Batang Gilas in 2011.
The 6-foot-8 Rangel is Heading’s teammate at Alab Pilipinas in the ABL.
Another amateur standout who was expected to go to Gilas was San Beda University forward Calvin Oftana.
Navarro will be the last player to be enlisted by Gilas, according to Panlilio.
“Again, the SBP thanks the PBA Board of Governors and Commissioner Willie Marcial for their flexibility in this matter and for allowing Navarro to join the Gilas pool instead. We know that a lot of teams had their eyes on Navarro, but the Board of Governors saw past that to consider the needs of Gilas,” Panlilio said.
“He will be the last addition to our pool to give the PBA teams enough time to map their game-plan for the upcoming draft.”
Fil-Ams Joshua Munzon and Jamie Malonzo are projected to be the No. 1 pick overall.
The likes of Jason Brickman, Mikey Williams, Jeremiah Gray, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Leonard Santillan, Alvin Pasaol, Franky Johnson, Ben Adamos, and Larry Muyang are also expected to be picked in the first round.
In 2019, five players led by Isaac Go (Terrafirma), Rey Suerte (Blackwater), Matt Nieto (NLEX), Allyn Bulanadi (Alaska), and Mike Nieto (Rain or Shine) were selected in the special draft. They have yet to play for the teams that selected them.
The Dyip will be selecting first in the draft followed by NorthPort, and the Road Warriors, who have the Nos. 3 and 4 picks.