WHERE to, Chris Banchero?
The ABL star has been practicing with the Blackwater Sports Elite team, has been receiving his monthly allowance with the reigning PBA D-League champions, and has signed a separate endorsement deal with the company.
“Yes he’s been practicing with us. And he will be part of our team in the next D-League conference,” said Blackwater team manager Johnson Martinez.
But there lies one problem.
The developmental league is set to hold a rookie draft for the first time next month, meaning there are no guarantees that Banchero will land on Blackwater's lap in the league's next tournament.
“Yes, may (rookie) draft na tayo ngayong taon,” said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial, adding he has already informed Blackwater about the draft plans.
“So 'yung kay Banchero at sa Blackwater… sinabihan ko na sila dati na may draft (at) hindi niyo pa siguradong makukuha yan," he added.
A major piece in the San Miguel Beer squad that won an Asean Basketball League title in its maiden season, Banchero should command huge interest among D-League teams after averaging 13.2 points, 4.8 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.8 rebounds per game with the Beermen in the last ABL season.
Blackwater is already looking at Banchero as the new face of the Dioceldo Sy-owned franchise in the Aspirant’s Cup which is tentatively set to kick off on October 24.
On the other hand, the Fil-Italian guard needs the stint with Blackwater to fulfill eligibility requirements in his plan to enter the PBA rookie draft.
So how can he land at Blackwater?
Martinez bared that Blackwater is now trying to muster support from fellow D-League mainstay teams as it calls for the scrapping of the draft ahead of a managers meeting set by the league at 2 p.m. on Friday.
The Blackwater team manager said the league has yet to set a process for the draft to determine who will get the top picks.
“Yun ang hihilingin namin. Kasi paano kami? Naubos rin ang player namin. Saka paano ang magiging proseso ng (draft) ranking? Sino ang una? Sino ang huli? May papasok pang bago (na teams),” said Martinez.
“Sana kung may malinaw nang guideline … Saka na lang ituloy yung draft (dahil) wala namang magpapa-draft na bagong players ngayon mula sa UAAP at NCAA eh,” he added.
But D-League tournament supervisor Eric Castro told Spin.ph that the draft has already been scheduled for September 19.
“Naka-schedule na 'yun eh. Saka yung mga teams rin naman ang may gusto niyan (draft). They wanted the draft para magkaraoon daw ng balance. Last conference pa yan,” Castro said.
“Pero tignan natin kung ano ang mangyayari sa meeting bukas,” he added.
The PBA is expecting 16 teams to make up the league roster at it enters its fourth season. The list of participants will be finalized on September 12.