Filipino-American prospects Cliff Hodge and Chris Ellis may end up joining the PBA draft after all.
The two players have been removed from the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas select pool set to compete in the SEABA qualifying tournament for the FIBA Asia Cup on July 3 to 7 because of eligibility issues.
And while Hodge and Ellis are still keen on representing the country, they could try their luck in the draft because players from the cadet pool or the select pool won’t be barred from joining the PBA.
“There’s no such thing that players who will become members of the [SMART-Gilas] cadet pool or the select pool won’t be allowed to join the PBA Rookie Draft. Players can join if they want to,” PBA commissioner Chito Salud told InterAKTV in a telephone interview after meeting with SMART-Gilas coach Chot Reyes and team manager Butch Antonio.
Agent Charlie Dy, who represents the duo, said the decision is up to them.
“Sila pa rin naman ang masusunod. Before kasi, yung dalawa gusto nilang i-commit yung sarili to play for the national team not because they have an offer, but because they want to represent the country,” said Dy, the duo’s agent.
“But now that things have become clearer that amateur players who will be part of the cadet pool and the select team will not be prevented, then I have to talk to them kung ano ang plano nila.”
Hodge and Ellis’ eligibility issues are similar to those encountered by Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz for SMART-Gilas in the FIBA Asia Championship last year.
A similar problem occurred for Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter during SMART-Gilas’ stint in the FIBA Asia Championship last year.
“Hindi tinatanggap ng FIBA yung tournaments such as SEA Games and Asian Games so even if naglaro na rito sina Hodge and Ellis, hindi pa rin sila magiging eligible for (the qualifying tournament),” said SMART-Gilas coach Chot Reyes.