GILAS Pilipinas cadet and Ateneo product Will Navarro became the latest local to take his talents abroad, signing with Seoul Samsung Thunders in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).
The team already announced the acquisition in a press release on Thursday to Korean news outlets, according to local sports site Jumpball, though terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Mr. Navarro, 25, is expected to join the club after the Gilas’ stint in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup slated for July 12-24 in Indonesia.
He posted averages of 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in his last UAAP year in Season 82 when Ateneo completed a three-peat highlighted by a perfect 16-0 season.
The 6-foot-6 forward was then selected by NorthPort in the special Gilas round of the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft that led to his consecutive national team stints.
Mr. Navarro played in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Southeast Asian Games and the ongoing FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
In Korea, he is anticipated to contribute for the struggling Thunders following their dismal 9-45 campaign at last place last season.
Mr. Navarro followed the path of SJ Belangel (Daegu KOGAS Pegasus), RJ Abarrientos (Ulsan Mobis Phoebus), Justin Gutang (Changwon LG Sakers), and Ethan Alvano (Wonju DB Promy), who will strut their staff in Korea under the Asian Player Quota program staring in the 2022-2023 Season.
Other local talents stamping their class overseas are Dwight Ramos, Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks, Jr., Kobe Paras and Jordan Heading, who are all in the Japan B.League.
Javi Gomez de Liaño (Philippine Basketball Association), Kemark Cariño (PBA D-League), and Juan Gomez de Liaño (PBA D-League) had also played in Japan before coming home this year. — John Bryan Ulanday