FORMER De La Salle center Arnold Van Opstal said he decided to forego his entry into the PBA Rookie Draft this year to allow a long-standing injury to heal and work on his game, denying that San Miguel Corp. had anything to do with his decision.
The 6-7 Fil-German had earlier announced that he will not be playing in his final year of eligibility with the Green Archers but at the same time passed up on the chance to join the August 23 draft, citing tendinitis on his Achilles for the decision.
“I can’t play. One, I can’t be a hundred percent and then I don’t want to aggravate my injury. I need to rest this. I had a very long schedule lately, UAAP, national team then D-League,” Van Opstal said.
“This (Achilles tendinitis) is a serious injury. This was the same injury that sidelined Kobe Bryant, remember he ruptured his Achilles which is something we don’t want to happen,” he said.
“It’s one of the worst injuries to happen. It’s a preventive measure for me not to get that injury, just a precaution.”
At the same time, Van Opstal denied that San Miguel, whose chairman, Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, happens to be the chief backer of the Green Archers, had influenced his decision to postpone his jump to the pros.
Teams under the SMC have very few first-round picks this season but have four in the first round next year - Star has two and Ginebra and San Miguel one each. Barako Bull also has two and GlobalPort one just like Rain or Shine, Blackwater, Alaska and KIA.
In contrast, teams from the rival group of Manny V. Pangilinan hold most of the first-round picks this year.
“Oh no, that’s not true. Their concern is my health. They don’t really care about that (2016 draft) right now. I am still recovering from my Achilles (tendinitis),” said Van Opstal.
With over a year to get ready for the PBA, Van Opstal said he plans to undergo stringent rehab and strengthening in the Philippines until December before flying to the US to attend skills camps.
“I will undergo training and rehab then I fly to the States so I can do some skills training. I haven’t gotten any summer league, but when I am there I might join some,” said Van Opstal, who bared La Salle coach Juno Sauler is assisting him in getting the best skills training.
Meanwhile, here are the owners of the first-round picks in 2016:
1. NLEX (from TNT)
3. Kia (pursued by TNT)
4. San Miguel (from NLEX)
5. GlobalPort (from Meralco)
6. Rain or Shine
8. Star Hotshots
10. Barako (from San Miguel)
12. Star (from GlobalPort)