Datu prepares for Rookie Draft

KEITH DATU (Photo courtesy of Santa Mria Times)

After a failed bid last year, Filipino-American forward Keith Datu is looking forward to joining the 2023 Philippine Basketball Association Annual Rookie Draft.

The 6-foot-8 Datu told Daily Tribune that he already has all his documents in place, making him eligible to finally join the PBA Draft that is tentatively set after the country’s hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in September.

If ever, the 27-year-old Datu will join a bumper crop of talents that potentially includes reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player Will Gozum, Ricci Rivero, Fran Yu, BJ Andrade, Schonny Winston, Zavier Lucero and Justine Baltazar.

Abroad-based local stars like Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, RJ Abarrientos, Dave Ildefonso, Rhenz Abando and Kobe Paras might also throw in their names as well as Fil-Am guard Sedrick Barefield.

“I was supposed to join the draft last year but I didn’t have my passport yet,” said Datu, a former California State in Chico player.

While waiting for the draft, Datu, who recorded more than 1,000 rebounds and 300 blocks during his high school stint at St. Joseph, did the closest thing to joining the PBA by playing for guest team J&T Express in the league’s 3×3 event.

Aside from making his presence felt in the standalone tourney that aims to help the country gain ranking points in the International Basketball Federation and the Olympics, Datu also gets to familiarize himself with the local brand of game as he competes with Marvin Hayes and Robin Roño.

“I know about the physicality, but Philippine basketball is playing more bully ball and there are more guards here,” he said.

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