SBP defends decision on William Navarro’s KBL issue

William Navarro can’t suit up in the KBL without SBP’s Letter of Clearance. (FIBA photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is sticking with their decision of denying William Navarro’s request for a Letter of Clearance (LOC) to make his highly anticipated debut in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).

After an outburst from his fellow overseas Filipino basketball players regarding SBP’s decision, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios issued a statement specified on Navarro’s status.

Barrios explained that Navarro can’t acquire his LOC request to play for the KBL club Samsung Seoul because his contract under Gilas Pilipinas still runs until March 2023.

Multiple sources added that an appeal was made regarding the situation but the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) denied it and clarified that Navarro will have to finish his contract with SBP first.

“After carefully reviewing the positions of the KBA and the SBP, FIBA issued its decision on September 12, 2022 not to allow Mr. Navarro to join Samsung Thunders. FIBA upheld that he still has an existing, legally binding contract preventing him from doing so,” said in the statement.

Last July, KBL team Samsung publicly announced that they signed Navarro for the upcoming season and are expecting the swingman to grace the team in October.

However, the SBP didn’t raise any concerns within the two-month gap after Samsung’s announcement involving LOC matters.

“The SBP respects players’ rights to look for greener pastures. But players also need to respect agreements they have entered into with their teams,” continued the statement.

According to the SBP, Navarro is getting paid every month after signing his contract as a member of the national pool and will have to serve Gilas and his PBA mother team NorthPort Batang Pier.

Last year, the two-way small forward was selected by the NorthPort Batang Pier franchise during the Gilas special rookie draft and is yet to make his debut in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).