WITH the possible departure of some key players by next season, newly-crowned PBA D-League champion Blackwater Sports is setting its sight on highly-touted Fil-Italian Chris Banchero.
Team owner Dioceldo Sy confirmed plans to tap the services of the San Miguel star point guard in the next D-League conference as the team faces the possibility of losing Justin Chua and Robbie Celiz to the pro ranks.
Sy said Banchero could be a good piece to build the team around since aside from Chua and Celiz, free agents Pari Llagas and Allan Mangahas might also try their luck signing up with other PBA teams.
The 6-foot-3 Llagas, a former University of the East big man, was a first-round pick (ninth overall) during the 2010 Draft, while Mangahas out of Mapua, went undrafted last year. Both are eligible to sign up directly with PBA teams.
“There are talks going on for Chris Banchero, but nothing is final,” said Sy, whose team put an end to NLEX D-League dominance in the D-League by sweeping the Warriors in the best-of-three Foundation Cup Finals.
Banchero was named Finals MVP honors after steering the Beermen to a three-game sweep of deposed champion Indonesia Warriors for their first-ever Asean Basketball League title.
Player agent Marvin Espiritu said he’s now awaiting Banchero’s go-signal before processing his papers at the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation since he still has to get his citizenship papers in order.
“Hawak na namin ang papeles ni Chris. Go signal na lang naman niya ang hinihintay namin. Kailangan niya kasi ang recognition from the BID tapos affirmation naman ng DOJ (Department of Justice) since `yun ang requirements para makalaro sa D-League, then eventually sa PBA,” Espiritu told Spin.ph.
Banchero is covered by PBA rules requiring Fil-foreign players aged 25 years old or below to play in at least two conferences in the D-League before becoming eligible for the rookie draft.
Should he get to play in the D-League beginning in November, Banchero will be eligible for the draft by 2014.
The 6-foot-1 guard out of US NCAA Division II school Seattle Pacific University was born to an Italian father and Filipino mother, the former Jacqueline Guerrero.
Banchero grew up with his Filipino mother, grandmother, and younger brother in Seattle, before eventually playing for the Beermen in the ABL last year.