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    Attention on PH big men makes job easier for snipers Lassiter, Wright

    Nov 16, 2018
    PHOTO: jerome ascaño

    FILIPINO sharp-shooters have yet to find their range in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers, but for top snipers Marcio Lassiter and Matthew Wright, they have their full belief that guns will finally come ablaze this fifth window.

    "For sure, it's gonna come out," said the San Miguel sniper. "I think it's just a matter of time. Everyone knows it's a new system, we can't argue about that and it's gonna take some time for everyone to acclimate."

    The Philippines currently ranks 14th out of 16 teams in the Asian qualifiers when it comes to three-point shooting with its 25.4-percent clip from deep.

    Their struggles from beyond the arc continued this past September window, with the Filipinos shooting 8-of-59 from rainbow country for a measly 13.5-percent clip.

    Lassiter has shot 2-of-12 from downtown in his national team comeback during the fourth window, while Wright went 1-of-6 from threes in the closed-door game against Qatar after serving his one-game ban.

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    Wright, though, told critics to consider those paltry shooting nights as off-days.

    "That was one of those games that we just couldn't hit anything as a team. Unfortunately, those happen sometimes, but we're happy to pull out the win even though we shot that poorly," said the Phoenix sniper. "You could just imagine if we could shoot the ball well how much more of a cushion that would give our team moving forward."

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      Despite those woes from the outside, what's working in favor of the Philippines is the homecourt advantage for the next set of games, with the November 30 clash against Kazakhstan and December 3 duel against Iran both set to be played at Mall of Asia Arena.

      "I definitely feel that, in my experience, you shoot better at home. Teams are more confident in gyms that they're used to. We're hoping that playing at MOA for both games, that familiarity with the rims and the ball would be in our favor," said Wright.

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      It also helps that the spacing will be better this time out, with coach Yeng Guiao trotting possibly the tallest Philippine team ever with guys like June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, and potentially young prodigy Kai Sotto all in contention for a spot in the squad.

      "The biggest thing that I noticed is we got a big inside presence," observed Lassiter.

      "When you have inside presence that I've been spoiled with the Beermen, just having June Mar when I'm playing, it really opens up a lot of opportunities. So in this fifth window, having June Mar, Greg, Kai, and the like, you got some legit bigs and when you have that threat, it's gonna make our job as shooters a lot easier. We can get something going out there."

      That's why for the pair, who are hands-down the two best gunslingers in the PBA today, fans shouldn't fret on Team Philippines' struggles from the outside, especially now that the players have more time embracing the new system Guiao has installed with the national team.

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      "You could just imagine if we could shoot the ball well, how much more of a cushion that would give our team moving forward," said Wright.

      Lassiter ended: "We're gonna be more comfortable with the system now and guys are going to be ready to play. I guess we have more time to play together and if we keep sharing the ball, good things are going to happen."

      "We don't have to force it. Whoever's open is gonna shoot it. That's what I'm excited for in this next window."

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      PHOTO: jerome ascaño
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