#FreeWill: KBL Pinoy players show support for Navarro

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(CNN Philippines, September 19) — Korean Basketball League (KBL) Filipino imports RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel, and Justin Gutang showed their support for William Navarro after the former Ateneo standout failed to get clearance from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to join the Seoul Samsung Thunders.

The Korean Basketball Association requested a letter of clearance for Navarro to play for the Samsung Thunders, but the SBP said he still has a live contract with Gilas Pilipinas which will run until March 2023.

Belangel, the first Filipino to be signed by a KBL team, said they will always be ready to represent the country even if they are playing overseas.

“Always remember that we are still repping the Filipino Flag no matter where we play. We chose to play internationally not because we hate Philippine Basketball but because we are here to pursue every athlete’s dream to reach our fullest potential and even go beyond our dreams,” the Daegu Kogas import wrote on his social media.

“Every day, we are working hard to make our country proud, never saying that Philippine Basketball is the worst place to play in. As what Woody said, “Reach for the sky!” Do not settle with what we have or for what is working. Always aim for more!” he added.

Abarrientos, who will suit up for the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis in the upcoming KBL season, said local players should be encouraged to pursue their dreams of honing their skills and showcasing their talents.

“REALLY??? An impediment in someone’s dream? You all should SUPPORT Filipino athletes who are playing abroad. Similar to any other profession, you’ll do what’s best for your career! They are choosing to play and strengthen their ability while representing our country,” said the former Far Eastern University cager, who only played one UAAP season to play professionally in South Korea.

Ex-College of St. Benilde player Justin Gutang, who will play for Changwon LG, echoed the sentiments of Belangel and Abarrientos.

“It’s sad to see someone who’s worked so hard to get where they’re at now have their dreams taken away just like that. Is it that wrong for Filipino Athletes to choose playing abroad? Are they not allowed to choose a path that will benefit them along the way? I mean Filipino Athletes playing overseas are still representing the (Philippines). Everyone should spread love and positivity to all Athletes in every profession playing abroad. #Freewill.”

The 2022-2023 Korean Basketball League season begins on Oct. 16.