LEGENDARY cager Bogs Adornado added to the clamor to have sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter in the Gilas Pilipinas lineup, saying the San Miguel gunner needs to be there if the national team hopes to be competitive in the coming Fiba Olympic Qualifiers.
The 62-year old former Crispa Redmanizers star believes that up against taller, stronger teams in the July 5-10 tournament, the smaller Filipino lineup must have a steady outside gunner like Lassiter to help spread the defense.
And no one fits the bill more than Lassiter, who Adornado said is the closest any Filipino gunner can get to the shooting accuracy of two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
“Lassiter must be there. He’s a good shooter. Kailangan natin siya sa national team, wala tayong pure shooter gaya ni (Allan) Caidic nuong araw. Sa akin, pang starting five 'yan,” said the soft-spoken three-time PBA MVP.
“Nabasa ko may sakit siya. Sana makabalik at sana pwede pa siyang humabol. Naniniwala ako na may sakit siya, kasi professional player siya, pero madi-disappoint ako pag di siya nakasali,” he added.
Adornado knows all too well how a shooter can help the national team's cause from his experience as one of the heroes of the last all-Filipino team to rule the Fiba Asia in 1973, as well as with the success of other Philippine squads that featured excellent sharpshooters like Caidic.
“Kasi sa international competition, very effective pag may shooter, kasi malalaki ang kalaban mo, hindi ka basta makaka-drive, kaya pwersado kang mag-shoot sa labas, so we need a pure shooter like (Allan) Caidic nuong araw and [Ciso] Bernardo,” Adornado said.
“Ganyan ang mga high-percentage shooter, ganyan ang mga kakailanganin natin,” he added, referring to Lassiter.
Adornado said Lassiter can give national coach Tab Baldwin's game plan a lot more flexibility.
“Pag kasi pumutok yung Lassiter, kahit gaano pa kalalaki ang kalaban mo, mag-a-adjust rin sila sa depensa. Ngayon, kung maliliit na tayo, wala pang shooter na sureball sa labas, mahihirapan talaga tayo,” he said.
The PBA legend cautioned that with or without Lassiter, the coming Fiba Olympic Qualifiers is a tall task for Gilas.
“Sa tournament na 'yan, you really have to work hard. Malakas ang kalaban. Ang kakalaban natin galing pa sa ibang region. Hindi ito gaya ng Fiba Asia, this is not going to be an ordinary campaign for us,” said Adornado.
But whatever the Gilas final lineup rolls out, Adornado reiterated the need for today's PBA heroes to put the country's pride ahead of anything else, and that their obligations to club teams should only come secondary.
“Hindi natin sila masisisi kung nagbago na ba talaga ang panahon. Pero sana maisip nila na one of the elites ka pag nasa national team, at honor yan sa bansa mo, sa pamilya mo at sa sarili mo.”
“Yung national team, isang bagay yan na kahit tapos na career mo, patay ka na, hindi na maalis sa tabi ng pangalan mo yan, bayani ka na habambuhay kasi bandila natin ang dinala mo eh,” Adornado added.
“Hindi dapat mawawala yung pride na ganun. Ang hirap i-explain ng feeling pag naglaro ka sa national team. Ibang iba yun. Ang club team kasi trabaho lang yun, ang national team, pride yun. You can’t compare the two.”
Adornado hopes today's players should emulate the attitude of their predecessors, who dreamed of nothing else but playing for flag and country.
“Ang dream ko talaga Olympics eh, nung kabataan ko wala pang PBA, pero merung Micaa. Pero ang dream ko talaga nun, Olympics and to be in the national team. Yun ang aim namin noon, hindi Micaa, hindi PBA - national team,” he said in a firm tone.