Gilas Pilipinas standout Will Navarro formally reached out to ranking officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to apologize for their contract dispute.
Navarro met with SBP and Gilas officials to personally say sorry for his shortcomings before issuing a statement on social media to admit that he still has a live contract with the federation.
The 25-year-old former Ateneo de Manila University forward sparked a controversy when he sought a Letter of Clearance from the International Basketball Federation to play for the Seoul Samsung Thunders in the Korean Basketball League.
His request was denied with the world-governing basketball body deciding that he still has a live contract with SBP.
With that, Filipino cagers seeing action overseas like Kai Sotto, RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel and Justin Gutang raised a howl, saying that the federation is barring Navarro from pursuing his dream.
But in the end, Navarro recognized that he still has an obligation to the federation as well as Northport, the team that drafted him in the special Gilas draft in the Philippine Basketball Association.
The Thunders’ offer for Navarro, however, is already off the table as they signed Filipino-Canadian Christian David as reinforcement under Asian Player Quota.
“Today, I met with (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios at his office and reiterated my sincere apology for my error and the misunderstanding and miscommunication caused by my signing up with the Samsung Thunders of Korea,” Navarro said.
“I now fully recognize that I have an existing contract with the SBP and I am aware of the provision regarding the rights of my PBA drafting team thru the PBA special draft, NorthPort Batang Pier.”
“Since the fallout of my actions, I have sought professional assistance and I am now once again under the advisement of a management team that will assist me with my contracts and commitments moving forward.”
Navarro is being advised by PJ Pilares of the Titan Group Management, who previously disagreed with his plan of playing in the KBL due to the existence of his live contract, which states that he will be released to NorthPort once he is already free of commitment with Gilas Pilipinas.
But Navarro is not giving up hopes of pursuing an international career as he continuously seeks the blessings of the SBP, Gilas Pilipinas and NorthPort
“I seek the understanding and generosity of the SBP, the PBA, and the NorthPort Batang Pier to give me a chance to pursue my and my family’s dreams for my basketball career,” he said.
“I pledge to abide whatever decision they may arrive at regarding my case.”
“Lastly, with this apology and clarification, I trust that we will all be united for the good of Gilas Pilipinas and Philippine basketball.”
Navarro said playing for Gilas remains his priority. In fact, he was among the young players who showed up in Gilas’ first training with some PBA stars last Monday at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
“Last Monday, I attended the Gilas Pilipinas practice session at the Meralco Gym in positive response to the invitation to me and to show my support and commitment to the national team,” he said.
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