MANILA, Philippines – It’s been a difficult time for Marcio Lassiter in the past months as he recovered from bronchopneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs due to infection. But it became twice as hard when he endured watching his Gilas Pilipinas brothers play on without him.
The 29-year-old admitted it was painful watching the national team from his home, instead of helping them in some way on the court during the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament – a short campaign for Gilas that ended in two days with back-to-back losses.
“It hurts to sit there at home and watch but maybe it’s just God’s will, I’m not sure. But it hurt a lot to not be there, but there’s nothing you can do,” the San Miguel Beermen marksman said after his team nabbed their first win of the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup, and more than a week after the qualifier.
“I did (watch Gilas). I’m so proud of all of them. They played with tremendous heart, they gave their all, there's nothing you can say more on what they did. Even the coaching staff. I know they’ve been working extremely hard. It's just sad that they came up short.”
Gilas fell short of its goal to qualify for the Rio Olympics and instead dropped games to eventual champion France and New Zealand.
“As much as I wanted to be out there, I knew the guys who were out there, they can definitely perform. That’s why I’m so proud of them,” he added.
Lassiter, who said he still isn’t 100% healthy, was named to the Gilas pool for the OQT, but struggled with injuries from the previous PBA conference and his illness. He practiced with the team sparingly and was mostly present wearing street clothes.
He was one of the players who drew anticipation and excitement to the Gilas OQT campaign because of his shooting – and also because he has yet to suit up for the national team in recent years.
In the win against the Phoenix Fuel Masters last weekend, Lassiter was clearly still groping for some of his old offensive strength, though he made up for that in other departments to finish with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and two blocks.
Lassiter said he is “always open” to joining the national team again even if it shifts back to the amateur program he was once part of in an attempt to adjust to the new FIBA calendar.
“I just think it’s just bad timing with what happened to me. I think the amateur route, it might take a few bumps in the road but trust me, I’ve been there, the Gilas 1 program was a great start for a lot of us and it just made us work hard,” he explained.
“I know those guys (cadets) will be very hungry and if they continue to keep playing hard they’re going to grow as players and they’ll be great players later on.” – Rappler.com