SMART-Gilas members mull withdrawal from PBA draft

SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Jason Ballesteros, Mac Baracael, and Mark Barroca have turned in their applications to the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft on August 28, but some of them may end up withdrawing their names from consideration. The league gives players until August 26 to take back their applications.

The management of SMART-Gilas is reportedly readying a better offer for some of the players to stick with the program, which will reportedly be extended for two more years to prepare to compete for a slot in the 2013 FIBA World Championship.

Apart from the opportunity to play for the national team, some players also stand to make more money by staying with SMART-Gilas. One source said that some national team members currently take home P250,000 a month. In contrast, salaries of PBA rookies are capped at a maximum of P150,000.

There has been a proposal inside the league to hike the rookie salary for next season to P200,000 to entice some of the players to stay in the draft, but the measure has encountered some opposition within the PBA Board of Governors.

“We don’t think money is the solution,” said a team governor who requested not to be named. “Hindi dapat mauwi sa pera-pera ang usapan. If these players really want to serve the national team, they can still do so even if they are already in the PBA.”

With rumors rife that Lassiter and Lutz will end up withdrawing from the draft, the same governor is proposing that these players be barred from rejoining the draft for two years.

“Kapag nag-withdraw ka, ibig sabihin hindi ka pa handa sa PBA so I will propose he be prohibited from joining the draft for two years,” he said.

Other SMART-Gilas mainstays JVee Casio, Chris Tiu and Dylan Ababou have also mulled joining the draft. The PBA has set the deadline for applications on Thursday at 5 p.m.

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