It is yet unknown where NLEX would stand in the pecking order of the PBA draft in, say, two years from now.
But that should be of little concern to the Road Warriors, who stand to add a maximum of two blue-chip players in this year’s draft.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said SBP president Al Panlilio informed the pro league board during a special meeting Monday that Gilas would only take “three to five” players in the special round of the draft set March 14.
In the same meeting, the board proposed that players selected in the special Gilas draft be allowed to play for their respective ballclubs if the national team has no scheduled training or tournament.
Marcial also said that Gilas, which will participate as guest team in one of the PBA’s conferences can claim the championship if it tops the tournament.
NLEX owns the third and fourth picks overall in the regular draft and would most likely also have those rights in the special Gilas round.
In the draft order released by the league, Terrafirma picks first overall and NorthPort second.
The latest development would make the coming Gilas special draft similar to the last one held in 2019, when the likes of Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, brothers Matt and Mike Nieto and Allyn Bulanadi were taken by SBP.
Incidentally, NLEX picked Matt Nieto in that special draft and the Road Warriors should have more to choose from among the outstanding players left after the Dyip and Batang Pier have chosen theirs.
Should the SBP require only three players, the Road Warriors would still be among those teams with a top choice.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao previously said he already has a near-complete roster with the remaining slots to be filled up through the regular draft, which initially drew a record 97 applicants.
As before, all players tabbed by Gilas from the draft would only be able to suit up for the pro teams which drafted them should they be released by the SBP.
The idea of having the national team playing in the PBA as a guest team began during the mid-’80s when the Danding Cojuangco-backed Nationals joined the league under the Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC) banner, eventually winning the 1985 Reinforced Conference championship.
The NCC remains the only all-amateur team to capture a title in Asia’s premier professional basketball league.
The SBP also did the trick in 2011 when it brought in the original Gilas Men squad as a temporary replacement to the Red Bull franchise, which took a leave of absence that time, for the conference that has since been renamed the Commissioner’s Cup.*PBA.PH