The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) recently announced that it's now accepting applicants for its annual rookie draft slated to be held on August 28 at Robinsons Place Ermita, and this early the draft promises to be an interesting one with the looming application of some Smart Gilas members.
Although there may be a dearth of Fil-foreigners in the draft owing to a new rule set by PBA Commissioner Chito Salud requiring foreign-born applicants to play at least two conferences in the PBA's D-League, it won't be slim pickings for the 10 PBA teams.
A reliable source said guard JV Casio and forward Dylan Ababou of Smart Gilas will most likely join the draft. Six other Gilas players, namely Fil-Ams Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter, Mark Barroca, Mac Baracael, Jason Ballesteros, and skipper Chris Tiu, are also eligible to join. Lutz and Lassiter are exempted from the D-League rule covering Fil-foreigners since they have both served the national team.
Should any Gilas member join the draft and get selected, the same source said he will only start practicing with his mother team after the FIBA-Asia championships in Wuhan, China in September, based on a supposed agreement between the pro league and the national team.
Fil-foreign applicants have until July 29 to submit their applications together with complete requirements, while local applicants have until August 18. For Fil-foreigners, there will be a 15-day contestability period beginning August 1. The final list of draft aspirants will be released by the Commissioner's Office on August 18, after which a four-day rookie camp will be held from August 23 to 26 where the aspirants will be tested and pitted against each other under the watchful eyes of team scouts.
Aside from the Smart Gilas players, other top prospects expected to throw their hats into the draft pool include former UE star Paul Lee, ex-Ateneo guard Eric Salamat, FEU's big man Riel Cervantes and sharpshooter Paul Sanga, San Sebastian's Pamboy Raymundo, and San Beda's Garvo Lanete and Dave Marcelo. Lee's former UE teammate Ken Acibar, a six-three forward, is also reportedly applying. He and Lee have just come from Las Vegas where their college coach Lawrence Chongson accompanied them to train at the famed Impact Academy of Joe Abunassar.
Other former collegiate players likely to join include big men Mike Galinato of Adamson and Magi Sison of UP and point guard James Martinez of UE.
While foreign-based applicants need to play two D-League conferences, local players are required to play in one, and the biggest casualty of this ruling is six-nine University of Cebu slotman Junmar Fajardo, who has yet to strut his stuff in Manila. The earliest Fajardo can apply for the draft is in 2012, and that's only if he joins a D-League team for the league's second conference set to reel off in October.