There were many cases of players who got drafted but wasn't offered a contract but I hadn't heard of no.1 pick refusing to play for the team that drafted him. Some people cite Victor Pablo and the Coke guy but I'm not familiar with their cases. I don't want to comment on them.
Points To Consider:
What Japeth Aguilar did really surprised me but legally speaking as long as he hadn't signed any contract, he has no obligation just like a Philippine Basketball Association team is has no obligation to hire its draftees.
Aguilar should've seriously considered his options. Now, he finds himself in a controversy that is avoidable. His reputation is taking a beating.
When I was in college I was taught nobody can force you to work if you don't want to or it will be tantamount to involuntary servitude and is unconstitutional.
In fairness to BK, they said they will allow Japeth to play for Smart Gilas. If Japeth talked personally to Burger King owners, I think this fiasco could have been prevented as long as they make a deal that would benefit both parties. We Filipinos are good in sorting things out through heart to heart talk.
Why the sudden change of heart?
Unfortunately it didn’t go too well. But having seen first hand what it was like, how the teams from the Middle-East played and the system they followed, I felt the challenge to try again and to take them on, confident that we could surely do better the next time with hard work, dedication and the willingness to sacrifice and learn.
I am prepared to do just that. My father Peter who also played for the Northern Consolidated national team wants me to do that and so do the other members of our family.
The only way I can achieve this goal is by playing for the Smart Gilas development team under coach Rajko Toroman provided of course that they accept me since I had initially decided to enter the PBA Annual Draft.
I am confident that they will.
The experience of Tinajin, China, opened my eyes and told me that if I truly want to help my country in international basketball I will have to sacrifice a career in the pro league with all the glamour and all the perks, and join the national pool for the present time.
I will always be grateful to coach Yeng Guiao for the opportunity he gave me to play for the Philippines, Powerade Team Filipinas manager JB Baylon and PBA Commissioner Sonny Barrios for their kindness, understanding and support.
I wish to extend my deep sense of gratitude to coach Yeng, Burger King team owner Mr. Bert Lina and team manager and PBA chairman Lito Alvarez for their confidence in my ability by making me their No.1 draft pick.
I trust they will understand that my desire to play for my country means more to me and my family than anything else.
I have made the choice with my family’s blessings and encouragement.
I hope and pray that my countrymen will support me in the effort to help strengthen the Philippine Team in its continuing quest for respect and redemption in international basketball.
SGD. Japeth Aguilar
The controversy led many people to unfairly judge Japeth Aguilar. Unfortunately, most of them are misinformed. Why are they so angry? Remember this person - Manny V. Pangilinan. He owns Smart Gilas team and has shares in Burger King. He WILL sort this thing out. For an accomplished business executive, this conflict is nothing new to him. He will solve this crisis, most likely behind the scenes. Trust me. Everything will turn out fine in the end.
Update: 9 -1 -09
Since we can't check the PBA rules online we are left in the dark. Now it turns out if a draftee refuses to sign the contract, he will have to sit out for two years and in the third year he becomes a free agent. There's no rule about banning. It will look bad to the public if the PBA bans Japeth for it will look like the league is forcing the young man to sign his contract. You ban someone because he doesn't want to sign a contract? How will it look it to the public? Worse, fans would question the fairness of the league. A PBA team HAS NO LIABILITY if it doesn't sign the player it drafted but it is not the same when the players won't. It will be a public relations nightmare and put the spotlight on the league. Burger King still has the rights to Japeth though for two years. I think it would be better if the sides try to settle this PRIVATELY and not talk to each other in the press.
Update 9 - 2 - 09
When a PBA team dumps a draftee, it's called a business decision when it's the other way around the draftee is called unprofessional. Yes, I know PBA teams spend millions but is this fair? One thing we Filipinos hate is inequality.
I still don't understand Japeth's decision-making. There must be something wrong with the contract Burger King offered to him. This is the root of the controversy anyway.