THE need for an outside gunner must have been weighing heavily on Gilas Pilipinas that the team is not totally closing the door yet on ailing wingman Marcio Lassiter.
Hours after the final 14-man lineup was announced without the name of the deadly Fil-Am guard, a top official of the national squad said Gilas is taking into consideration Lassiter’s state of health and see if he can make the team’s European training even halfway through the 21-day camp.
Gilas manager Butch Antonio said the team is open to such possibility especially if Lassiter can secure clearance from doctors that he’s fit enough to rejoin the national team.
“We’re open about Marcio following the team in Europe taking into consideration his health,” said Antonio a day before the nationals leave for Greece in the first of its three country stop in Europe.
Antonio had talks with Marvin Espiritu, who represents Lassiter, on Thursday and said the line of communication remains open on such arrangement.
“Right now we’re just waiting for directives from Butch (Antonio). He’s keeping coach Tab (Baldwin) informed about the matter, and we’re waiting if such plan is feasible for coach. We have to know kung ano yung time frame ng team,” said Espiritu.
The 29-year-old Lassiter, a member of the original Smart Gilas team, is considered the best outside shooter in Baldwin’s 24-man training pool. In his absence, Jeff Chan is left as the only pure shooter of a Gilas side aiming to put the country back in the Olympic map after a 44-year absence.
Lassiter, according to Espiritu, is currently on the recovery stage after incurring broncopneumonia at a time when Gilas is in the final stretch of its training for the Manila leg of the next month’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The former Cal State Fullerton stalwart has lost 10 lbs. since contracting the infection, and is currently at around 70 percent of his health, said Espiritu.
“Bumagsak ang katawan niya. Everybody knows it, nakita naman nila nung pumunta siya ng (Gilas) practice (last Sunday),” said the players’ agent.
Lassiter will be having his check-up by Saturday to assess his recovery.
“Kung ok na siya by that time, dun pa lang talaga siya magre-resume ng activities, and sabi niya (Lassiter) knowing his body, at least he needs a week to regain his full strength,” stressed Espiritu.
“That’s why we also want to know kung pasok pa ba siya sa time frame ng team if ever ganun nga ang mangyari.”