By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE final list of rookie applicants in this year’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) draft is set to be settled when the deadline for Filipino-foreign hopefuls to complete their papers lapses on Friday.

Application for the draft ended last January, but the league decided to defer coming out with the final list to give Fil-foreign applicants the opportunity to get the needed documents for them to be eligible to be picked by the teams in the March 14 draft.

The league said that given the current situation with the pandemic, working on the needed papers would be tougher than usual and, thus, it decided to give those concerned extra time.

A record total 97 players have applied for the draft, 31 of which are Fil-foreigners.

But days before the deadline set lapses, almost half of the non-homegrown applicants reportedly have yet to complete their documents, risking non-inclusion in the draft proceedings.

Said players still have to submit their certification from the Bureau of Immigration and recognition from the Department of Justice.

Among those reported not to have yet completed his papers is highly regarded point guard Jason Brickman.

Mr. Brickman, 29, impressively paraded his wares in the ASEAN Basketball League and PBA D-League and considered to be a shoo-in in the top five selection in the draft.

His possible non-inclusion is expected to alter the direction the draft will take.

Others still working on completing their papers are Jeremiah Gray, Jerrick Ahanmisi, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Taylor Statham, Tyrus Hill, and Alec Stockton.

Interestingly, Andre Paras, son of PBA legend Benjie Paras and is also an actor, is considered as a Fil-foreigner, having been born in the United States in 1995. He, too, has yet to complete his papers.

Those who have completed their requirements and have been cleared by the PBA, meanwhile, include Joshua Munzon, Jamie Malonzo, Taylor Brown, Brian Enriquez, Troy Rike, Jordan Heading, David Murrell, Franky Johnson, James Laput, and Mikey Williams.

The final list is being awaited by the 12 teams before they make their decision on who to pick.

In this year’s draft, Terrafirma will once again select first (also at eighth), followed by Northport (also at 11th), NLEX (third and fourth), Rain or Shine, Alaska, Phoenix Super LPG, Meralco, Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra.

Meanwhile, all the 12 competing teams in the PBA will be honored with the President’s Award in the special virtual awards night by the league press corps on Sunday, March 7.

Dubbed Heroic 12, Barangay Ginebra, TNT, Meralco, Phoenix, San Miguel, Alaska, Magnolia, Rain or Shine, NLEX, Blackwater, NorthPort and Terrafirma are being cited for their all-out support in making the lone PBA tournament last year, done in a “bubble” setup in Clark, Pampanga, a success.

Also to be given the President’s Award is Bulakan, Bulacan mayor and former PBA most valuable player Vergel Meneses.

The one-hour awards program is presented by Cignal TV and to be shown on PBA Rush on March 8.