WILL there be a special round for Gilas Pilipinas in the coming PBA Rookie Draft?
That depends on a lot of factors.
For a special Gilas draft to happen, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said there has to be a request for one from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas which will then be either approved or denied by the league board.
"As of now, wala pa [na request]," said Marcial, adding he expects the SBP to come up with a decision after the January 27 deadline for the application of draft prospects.
So far, only a number of prospects have formally filed their application for the March 14 draft, among them Fil-Am guard Jason Brickman, Andre Paras, former Alab Pilipinas mainstay Jeremiah Gray, and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser.
Marcial said he doesn't expect a request from SBP to come in until the full draft pool is revealed, by which time Gilas Pilipinas coaches led by Tab Baldwin should have a clear idea if they want some people in the pool or not.
Among the potential Gilas prospects are La Salle slotman Justine Baltazar, former Green Archers Jamie Malonzo and Santi Santillan, Joshua Munzon and Thirdy Ravena, who should be the consensus No. 1 pick if he declares for the draft.
"Magkakalinaw pa lang yan after ng January 27," said Marcial. "At magkakaalaman lang yan kung sino magpapa-draft mga January 26, ganyan."
An SBP request, Marcial said, will just be the first step for the PBA board, who he said will have a lot of other issues to decide on once it convenes.
How many players will the SBP want for the special Gilas draft? And what happens to the five players from last year's draft — Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte, and Allyn Bulanadi — who were loaned to the national team?
"Meron na silang limang players from last year, di ba? So ilan pa ang kailangan nila?" Marcial said, thinking aloud. "At anong mangyayari sa mga drinaft last year? Ibabalik na ba sila sa kani-kanilang mother teams?"
Lots of variables, really. But one thing Marcial is sure of, the next PBA pool will be deep enough to attract interest, both from Gilas and the league teams.
"Tingin ko hanggang third round, meron pa nagda-draft d'yan," said Marcial, pointing to the wealth of talent that he expects to come from senior players from the UAAP and the NCAA and those from the MPBL.