GILAS Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes has added Petron Blaze swingman Marcio Lassiter and Rain Or Shine backcourt star Paul Lee to the national pool, from which the team for the FIBA World Cup, which opens in late August will be selected.
Making a return to the roster are Greg Slaughter and Jared Dilinger, who were with the pool that trained for the FIBA Asia Championships last August, in which the Gilas team finished runners-up to Iran and qualified for a place in the coveted World Cup after 40 long and agonizing years.
Reyes told Manila Standard that he is “very happy” with the line-up he has, because Lassiter “gives us a lot of flexibility since he can play the 1, 2 or 3 spots, while Lee and the returning Dillinger give me size in the backcourt.”
The Manila Standard ran the story of the choice of Lassiter and Lee earlier this week, even as Reyes announced than that the Gilas Pilipinas national team will begin practice for the World Cup on Monday, with two players, who were not in the original pool being added to the roster.
Reyes said then he was hoping to add Petron Blaze swingman Lassiter and Rain or Shine backcourt star Lee to the training pool, while bringing back Dillinger, who was out initially because of an injury in a vehicular accident as well as Ginebra center Greg Slaughter.
Meantime, Reyes said he is waiting for the go-signal from the PBA as to when the team can begin practice on a regular basis, considering the short time available before facing the big names in international basketball in the World Cup.
Reyes also said that “it’s almost a certainty” that he will make some changes in the lineup for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, which will take place not long after the World Cup.
He mentioned the name of the “Best Player” in the recently concluded PBA Philippine Cup in Mark Barroca of San Mig Coffee, who had an amazing series and “perhaps another shooter” and others, so as not to allow South Korea, which will also be seeing action in the World Cup, to feel comfortable thinking the Philippines will field the same team.
Several followers of the fortunes of Gilas Pilipinas, who came out in their thousands to support the team during the FIBA Asia Championship in August, have mentioned that the PBA should appreciate the fact that players like Marc Pingris, shooting star Jeff Chan, big men Junmar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar had benefited substantially from their stint with Gilas Pilipinas.
Reyes also mentioned that naturalized center Marcus Douthut is also in town and ready to begin practice with the 16-man pool.