FOR declining a possible shot at suiting up for flag and country, Fil-foreign players Greg Slaughter and Marcio Lassiter may find themselves the subject of a congressional inquiry.
Cavite congressman Elpidio Barzaga Jr. bared to Spin.ph he is readying a summon on the two cagers for what he deemed was an "unpatriotic act" following their decision last week to pull out of the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the coming Fiba-World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“Maglalaro ka lang ng basketball. 'Yun naman ang iyong livelihood at hilig tapos lalaro ka para sa bansa, ayaw mo pa?" Barzaga, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusement, said in an interview with Spin.ph.
“It should be a pride and honor to play for your country. Ito atang mga Fil-Ams na ito hindi kino-consider na ang bansa nila ngayon eh Pilipinas,” added the veteran solon.
Barzaga said he also wants to summon officials of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB).
Slaughter and Lassiter were two of five new faces added by coach Chot Reyes to the Gilas pool prior to conducting the team’s first official practice last week.
But days after, Slaughter and Lassiter begged off from being included in the team and cited that it would be an injustice to members of the original 12 players of Gilas if either of them or both get to be chosen as part of the final roster for the World Cup and Asiad, respectively.
Barzaga however, said he is not biting into the reasons of the two young players, who incidentally belong to San Miguel Corp-controlled teams in San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra, respectively.
“It is a flimsy excuse. It's better for them to explain. Hindi ko kinakagat 'yung palusot nila na 'yun. When you are called by your own country, you have to give in,” said the solon representing the lone district of Dasmarinas City, Cavite.
Barzaga hinted he plans the inquiry after the World Cup and Asiad so as not to distract Gilas' preparations for the two international tournaments.
The outspoken government official also bared several fellow congressmen support his move, naming Antipolo representative Robbie Puno, a known staunch supporter of Gilas Pilipinas, Ben Evardone, and Dondon Bagatsing, among others.
As for the GAB, the government's licensing and regulating body for professional sports, Barzaga said: “We will also ask GAB to investigate this. They need to properly exercise their power of regulation. They should take action on this. Otherwise we will take action on them and the PBA.”
“Ang panukala lang naman natin kinakailangang repasuhing mabuti ng GAB ang mga lisensyang ibinibigay sa PBA,” Barzaga added.
Barzaga also vehemently denied allegations that he is only grandstanding or taking advantage of the issue to gain media mileage.
“Bakit ako mag-ga-grandstanding dito? Sinabi na nga nila Slaughter at Lassiter na ayaw nilang lumaro para sa bansa. At ano pa makukuha ko sa grandstanding dito? Andami kong isyu na hawak na ini-interview ako ng media,” said Barzaga.
“I am the chairman of the Games and Amusement (Committee) and professional basketball is under my committee, including GAB,” said Barzaga, who claimed to be a big fan of Barangay Ginebra.
When told that Slaughter plays for Ginebra, the outspoken solon declared, “Ah eh maghahanap na ko ng ibang team, those whose members are nationalistic and patriotic."
[For related story, see Did San Miguel have a hand in Slaughter, Lassiter decision to pull out of Gilas pool?]