Jayvee Casio is playing in the PBA next season.
Despite murmurs that the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team management is eyeing to retain him in the program, his agent Charlie Dy confirmed to InterAKTV that the spitfire guard would not be turning back on his decision to go pro.
SMART-Gilas members mull withdrawal from PBA draft
Earlier newspaper reports said that with SMART-Gilas planning to extend the program for two more years, several of its members who have joined the 2011 PBA Draft might end up withdrawing their names from consideration.
But multiple sources close to Philippine team players said that despite statements to the press, none of the players have been tendered formal offers to stay with the program.
The uncertainty over their future with the program caused the players to put their names on the list of those wanting to turn professional. Along with Casio, SMART-Gilas stalwarts Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Mark Barroca, Mac Baracael, Jason Ballesteros, and Dylan Ababou have also entered the draft.
Only one active SMART-Gilas player who was eligible to join the draft, Chris Tiu, decided to forego his application.
“My dream has always been to represent our flag and country by competing in the various international tournaments,” Tiu explained in a statement on Thursday. “Should management wish to invite me, it would be my privilege to continue on with the Gilas national team program.”
But Tiu, unlike other members of the SMART-Gilas team, has multiple options beyond basketball. He already has a fledgling career as a commercial model and television host, while his family has a diverse range of business interests that include publishing and hotels.
Worried about pullouts
A PBA official, whose team owns a high pick in the upcoming draft, still braces for the possibility that some of the SMART-Gilas players will pull out of the draft. Applicants have until August 26 to withdraw their names for draft consideration.
“Kutob ko mag-pull out sila eh,” said the official who requested anonymity.
Casio’s backcourt tag-team partner, Mark Barroca, meanwhile, also said that his entry into the PBA is a done deal. This was confirmed by his agent, Ed Ponceja.
Powerade looking at Casio, Lee as No. 1
With Casio confirming his entry into the PBA draft, the former La Salle hotshot is now a favorite to become the top rookie pick.
“My staff hasn’t really decided yet, but Jayvee just applied for the draft, and that makes him a very strong contender to become the No. 1 overall pick,” wrote Powerade coach Bo Perasol in a text message. The Tigers own the top pick as well as the No. 4 slot, which they acquired in a trade with Rain or Shine for Larry Rodriguez.
Perasol is familiar with Casio’s game, having personally traveled to Taiwan earlier this month alongside Powerade team governor JB Baylon to scout SMART-Gilas players.
Another option for Powerade for the first pick is former Philippine Basketball League Most Valuable Player Paul Lee, an exciting guard out of University of the East.
In the past month, the Tigers organized a tryout camp for potential draftees and free agents. Lee was among the attendees.
Other notable players in the rookie draft list include PBA D-League MVP Allein Maliksi, promising big man Ken Acibar, former Ateneo sentinel Eric Salamat, versatile former FEU forward Reil Cervantes, and 6-foot-5 Visayan center Ariel Mepana.