William Navarro’s contractual obligation with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas barred him from suiting up for the Soul Samsung Thunders in the Korean Basketball League.
In a statement, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said the former Ateneo de Manila University stalwart still has an existing contract to play for the national team and NorthPort, which is the team that drafted him in the special Gilas draft last year.
Barrios said the International Basketball Federation upheld their decision that the 6-foot-5 Navarro still has an existing and legally binding contract with them, prompting them to deny the Letter of Clearance being requested by the Korean Basketball Association.
Navarro’s contract with the SBP will expire in March 2023.
“After carefully reviewing the positions of the KBA and the SBP, FIBA issued its decision on 12 September 2022 not to allow Mr. Navarro join the Samsung Thunders,” said Barrios, also the spokesperson of the federation.
“FIBA upheld that he still has an existing, legally binding contract preventing him from doing so.”
Barrios, however, clarified that they don’t intend to bar players from seeking greener pastures by playing overseas.
“The SBP does not intend to unduly prevent players from furthering their careers with other teams here and overseas,” Barrios said.
“But it is a fundamental and ethical practice for players to honor existing contracts with their mother teams.”
Navarro has been playing for Gilas Pilipinas for more than a year now.
In fact, he was a part of Tab Baldwin’s young crew during the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last year where the Philippines defeated South Korea twice in a bubble tournament held in Pampanga.
When Chot Reyes took over as head coach, Navarro was among the holdovers and was given an opportunity to play all the way to the FIBA Asia Cup.
Although he wasn’t included in the Gilas roster in the last window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the federation reiterated that Navarro still has to honor a provision in a contract he signed with the national squad.
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