Gilas Pilipinas finally got San Miguel Beer gunner Marcio Lassiter on board on Tuesday, assuring the national pool of an additional scoring threat as the Filipinos continue their preparation for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila scheduled this July.
The 6-foot-2 Lassiter said his first day at Gilas practice went fine as he tries to familiarize himself with coach Tab Baldwin’s system and jell with the rest of the pool members.
“This is my first day. It feels good to see the guys, try to make strides because that’s our ultimate goal, to learn each day and pick up the offense of coach,” Lassiter told sports scribes after Gilas’ Tuesday morning practice at the Meralco gym.
The 5th year pro considered his arrival at Gilas as a homecoming of sorts, considering that he started his career in the national team by way of the original Smart-Gilas under Serbian coach Rajko Toroman.
After concluding his college career at Cal State Fullerton in 2009, the sweet-shooting Lassiter joined the national squad in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games where Toroman-mentored Smart-Gilas placed 6th.
“Way different, I think everything is different and I think each Gilas that we had, they are all different,” Lassiter said, comparing the original Smart-Gilas from the last 2 iterations.
“Each one is a learning process, so ours is kinda easy because the first one was kinda pretty young, but this is professional,” added Lassiter, whose Smart-Gilas batchmates included then collegiate standouts Chris Tiu, JV Casio, Mark Barroca, Mac Baracael, Dylan Ababou, to name a few.
Unlike Smart-Gilas, the basketball program that started in 2009 and ended in 2011, this year’s Gilas edition is composed of PBA players and reinforced by former Brooklyn Nets big man Andray Blatche.
The 29-year-old Lassiter said talent is no longer an issue for Gilas this year, considering that the team has the experience to compete internationally.
But what they need to simply work on is chemistry since the members of the Gilas pool are coming from various PBA teams.
“Now we try to figure out how we can jell in the time we had and hopefully, we can compete and bring home what we need to bring home,” said the 4th overall pick of Powerade in the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft.
Lassiter also said he intends to work his way back to condition since he is still nursing a left knee contusion, which he sustained in Game 2 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series against Rain or Shine.
“In Game 2, got hit on the knee so I just played on through it,” he said.
“Right now, I’m still trying to play through it, managing it through therapy and not try to overdo it and keep on trying to build till I get close to 100 percent.” – By Richard Dy
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