MANILA, Philippines – Players need to respect prior contracts before entering into new agreements, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said on Sunday, September 18.
This after the SBP denied forward William Navarro clearance to play for the Seoul Samsung Thunders in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), which would have made him the fifth Filipino in the fledgling league.
FIBA upheld the SBP’s position on Navarro’s case.
“The SBP respects players’ rights to look for greener pastures. But players also need to respect agreements they have entered into their teams,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios in a statement on Sunday.
Last September 12, FIBA struck down the Korea Basketball Association’s request for a letter of clearance after the SBP brought forward two key arguments against allowing the 6-foot-6 bruiser to leave for Korea.
The SBP, for its part, said Navarro is contractually obligated to play for Gilas Pilipinas, attend its activities, practices, social and business functions; and to be assigned playing professionally to no other ball club besides the NorthPort Batang Pier.
Navarro was picked second by the Batang Pier during the special Gilas round of the PBA Season 46 Draft in 2021 following a collegiate stint with Ateneo.
Despite the recent hot-button issues regarding player transfer from the Philippines to East Asian leagues such as the Japan B. League and KBL, the SBP claimed it’s not barring players from pursuing careers abroad.
“The SBP does not intend to unduly prevent players from furthering their careers with other teams here or overseas. But it is a fundamental and ethical practice for players to honor their existing contracts with their mother teams,” said Barrios.
“The essence for the need for a Letter of Clearance (LOC) is FIBA’s policy of upholding the sanctity of an existing, legally binding contract whenever the issue of Player Transfer comes about so that proper order is maintained among all stakeholders.”