MANILA—Unless commissioner Chito Salud sees it as blatantly one-sided, trading will be quite lenient come Philippine Basketball Association Draft Day on Sunday.

Known for being strict in player swaps, Salud said that any trade on Draft Day which will include picks in the proceedings will automatically be approved.

“We cannot conduct the normal review process on trades due to time constraints,” Salud explained. “So any trade that involves a Draft right is approved unless it is grossly lopsided.”

There are several big names that could be included in the Draft, including Smart Gilas stalwarts JV Casio, Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter and former PBL MVP and UAAP Mythical team member Paul Lee.

Lee is probably the best talent in the pool not belonging to the Smart Gilas national program and he is expected to be picked high in the proceedings, if not first overall.

Powerade owns the first and fourth choices overall, and coach Bo Perasol told the Inquirer on Friday that they are seriously looking at Casio should the former La Salle ace in the UAAP decide to proceed with his pro aspirations.

The Tigers also own the 11th and 12th overall choices, making Perasol confident of being able to rebuild and change the fortunes of his squad. Powerade did not make it past the eliminations in all three tournaments this season.

As of now, PBA teams—especially Powerade—have yet to make up their minds since the Smart Gilas players are still undecided on whether to go through with their applications as the national program has reportedly asked its mainstays for two more years.

Aspirants have until Friday to decide, otherwise their names will be included in the Draft.

If they withdraw after that, serious penalties could be meted out by the PBA, including a lifetime ban.

Under Salud, several trades have been thumbed down this season, including the celebrated deal that should have sent Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao to Air21 from San Miguel.

San Miguel, now Petron, had only wanted to give up Danny Seigle, Dorian Peña and Sunday Salvacion for the two rookies. But Salud turned it down and asked the Beermen to revise the deal and sweeten it for the Express.

Air21 thus acquired Seigle, Peña and Dondon Hontiveros in a new pact that was approved right away by the commissioner’s office.

Barocca, Baracael
Incidentally, former Far Eastern superstars Mark Barroca and Mac Baracael, also from Smart Gilas, have stressed that they are definitely turning pro after the Fiba-Asia men’s championship in Wuhan, China inSeptember.

With their decisions, Barroca and Baracael will surely be picked high in the first round of the Draft scheduled at the Robinsons Place in Ermita.

“They say they have served the national team enough, and they’re not young anymore,” said Ed Ponceja, agent/manager of both players.

Casio will still play for PH

Casio, on the other hand, said that he is definitely turning professional but has declared himself available anytime national duty calls.

“I’m grateful for my stint with the national team as it helped improve my game,” said Casio.

“I’m also for unity among Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Smart Gilas and the PBA in forming the best team for international competitions. So anytime, my services will be needed, I’ll always be very willing to join them,” Casio added.




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