Lassiter optimistic Gilas Pilipinas can get everything together for redemption bid – rezal404
“I have faith in the team we have.”
Thus declared Marcio Lassiter, a pioneering member of the Gilas Pilipinas and a shoo-in for the cast that is currently being put together to reclaim the basketball gold in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia next week.
Lassiter, also a member of that famed Tim Cone crew that won the gold back in the 2019 edition hosted by the country, said that the Gilas coaching staff has been doing a good job closing the gaps caused by manpower shortage, a problem that has long hounded the national program.
“2019 was a different lineup. You know, I don’t even recall how many practices we’ve had. This year, I think because of the long [pro] season, we’ve only had 10 guys. Sometimes, nine, like a few days ago. That sort of delayed our growth as a team, but we’re here trying to do the best we can to learn a system,” he told the Inquirer.
“[We] have to pick up quicker. Our PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) system is different [compared] to here,” he added. Goal coach Chot [Reyes]josh [Reyes] and Tim are doing a great job to get us all on the same page.”
From 28 names turned in to satisfy the requirements of this SEA Games’ organizing committee, 15 trooped to Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna province, last Sunday to hole up and develop familiarity and cohesion.
all about basketball
There, Lassiter joined San Miguel Beer teammates Chris Ross and CJ Perez, and a former one in Christian Standhardinger. Other PBA standouts in the lot are Calvin Oftana of TNT, Chris Newsome and Aaron Black of Meralco, Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort, Jeremiah Gray of Barangay Ginebra and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser of NLEX.
Amateurs have been called up for the bid in Phnom Penh as well. Ateneo committed Mason Amos, Adamson ace Jerom Lastimosa and La Salle’s towering brothers Ben and Michael Phillips comprised the youth brigade expected to reinforce Justin Brownlee, the tireless, do-it-all forward who was granted Filipino citizenship last January.
“I got to figure things out with all these guys. That’s the challenge. We got a week. We’ll do two-a-days so I hope that could expedite the process, you know, speed [things] up,” Lassiter said.
More than the camp—where everything is just going to be about basketball—Lassiter is drawing optimism from two things: Brownlee and this bunch’s eagerness to right the wrong of that fateful May day in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the Philippines saw its 33-year reign in the regional meet fall apart.
“If you got guys who want to get out there and win, we’re gonna find a way,” he said. “[And] Justin’s here. He should help us a lot in areas like, just calming us down, weathering a storm, or hitting that timely bucket. He’ll be a great help to us.”
Cone believes it’s that hunger that will serve Gilas the most when it plunges into action at Morodok Techo National Stadium in the Cambodian capital beginning May 9.
“These guys are dying to do this, dying to be a part of this. It doesn’t come all the time, especially for the Fil-Ams, because [they] aren’t allowed to represent their country.
And just because they’re Fil-Ams, it doesn’t mean this is not their country. This is their country, too. aim [these SEA Games] allow you to do that. So this is the one opportunity they could do it,” he said.
“I think we’re gonna have a hungry team as we have guys that really wanna come in and play and that’ll be our edge,” Cone added.
“It’s a different challenge, I’d say,” Lassiter said of the reclamation mission that begins with Malaysia at 2 pm on May 9, followed by host Cambodia at 6 pm on the 11th and then Singapore, 2 pm on the 13th.
“We just gotta embrace it and do the best we can. We just got to be sharp,” Lassiter added. “We’ll find ways to keep plugging away.”
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