PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Philippines – The 2011 PBA Rookie Draft is essentially close to Fil-foreign players, except Smart Gilas Pilipinas mainstays Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter.
This is the major ramification of a recent PBA board resolution opening the coming draft only to homegrown players now playing in the PBA D-League and to players who have served the national men’s team.
Under the league’s new draft policy, Fil-foreign players must have played at least two conferences in the D-League to be eligible for the annual draft.
“What the board wants is for the Fil-foreign players to know the Filipino culture first before being allowed to play in the PBA,” said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial.
“And as they take residency in the D-League, Filipino basketball fans get to know them before they play in the pros,” Marcial added.
Among Fil-foreign players who’ve started residency in D-League are Pharex’s Jason Deustchman and N-LEX’s Cody Tesoro, Chris Ellis, Karl Dehasa and Cliff Hodge. Deustchman is a 6-foot-7 multi-position player.
The earliest these players can play in the PBA is 2012.
Same with players like Cebuano hotshot Junmar Fajardo.
The 6-foot-9 behemoth, who is reportedly planning to join the coming draft, must look for a team to play for in the current D-League tourney if he wishes to be accepted in the 2011 draft pool.
Liga Pilipinas players must also play in the D-League to gain eligibility in the draft.
Among top prospects for the coming draft are members of Smart Gilas Pilipinas and D-League aces Paul Lee, Carl Abueva and Eric Salamat.
Still up for discussion are Barako Bull’s draft rights.
Barako Bull’s 2011 first round pick has been traded to Talk n Text. The question is whether Barako Bull would automatically be considered the last placer in the current season and thus given a crack at the top pick via a lottery.
At the moment, Powerade, Air21 and Meralco are the other teams with a shot at the top pick.
The draft order will be finalized at season’s end. The draft is set Aug. 28.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini, the second pick behind teammate Nonoy Baclao in the last draft, is the statistical leader in the Rookie-of-the-Year race.