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GOOD ENOUGH FOR GILAS: MARCIO LASSITER

2014 is going to be a BIG year for Philippine basketball. This year will mark the first time two of our Philippine National Teams (Men’s and U17) will march onto the world stage and compete at the highest level of international hoops. Our very own Gilas Pilipinas squad will go to Spain and play in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, while the Philippine U17 Team, coached by Jamike Jarin, will troop over to Dubai for the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships.

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It’s been reported that the Gilas Pilipinas brain trust is keen on tapping more players to join the pool, with the magic number pegged at 24. That means that there are still around eleven slots open. Take note that this does not YET include the two naturalized prospects of the team — Javale McGee of the Denver Nuggets and Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets. We’re still not sure if their respective naturalization processes will finish in time for Gilas to include their names in the final 24-man pool.

As of this writing, the 2014 FIBA World Cup Draw is done, and the Philippines has been grouped along with Senegal, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Greece, and Croatia. That, in my opinion, is the second-toughest group of the lot, and making it into the second round will certainly be the tallest task coach Chot Reyes has ever faced. Needless to say, he’ll need all thew support he can get.

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This is the eighth piece in a series of posts detailing the players who can be part of that pool. For each named individual, we will look at the good things he can bring to the pool, his probable role should he get named to the final Gilas lineup, and the possible match-ups he will have at the Asian and world levels.

Today, we’ll talk about someone who was part of Gilas in 2011 as the Filipinos broke into the top four of the FIBA Asia Men’s for the first time since 1987. He was the usual starter at the SG spot, often guarding the opposing team’s best wingman. He was also one of the team’s designated snipers and slashers. He is Marcio Lassiter.

What he brings to the table:

Lutz offers three main things to the Gilas cause — his experience, his skill-set, and his versatility.

Much like Chris Lutz, Marcio’s Lassiter’s main strengths are his skill-set, versatility, and experience. Some, in fact, may argue that Lutz and Lassiter play very similarly, and that, should coach Chot want a pair of players seamlessly subbing for each other, then these two are his men.

If I may offer a sliver of differentiation, though, this is it — whereas I think Lutz is the slightly better playmaker and slasher, I think Lassiter is the slightly better shooter, ball-handler, and defender. In the 2011 Wuhan joust, Lassiter played six games, averaging around 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal. He was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Marcus Douthit. He defended guys like Rahseim Wright, Takuya Kawamura, Jet Chang, and Cho Sung-Min.

Right now in the 2013-2014 PBA Season, Lassiter is doing pretty well, averaging about 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 2 treys per outing. His one glaring flaw, however, is missing about a third of his free throws. He is a really solid two-way guy, but when it comes to crunch time and hitting those pressure-cooker freebies, Lassiter is not the odds-on favorite.

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Why he is a good fit for Gilas: 

Here’s the thing, though, I think that should the San Miguel group green light Lassiter for the World Cup, coach Chot wouldn’t think twice of putting the California State-Fullerton alum in the 24-man pool. The bottom line is Lassiter’s experience guarding all those top-tier FIBA Asia wingmen is invaluable, and, well, he’s significantly younger than Gary David, Larry Fonacier, and Jeff Chan. Putting Lassiter could prove to be a good move for the present and long-term.

Potential match-ups:

FIBA-Asia: Hamed Afagh (IRI), Kim Min-Goo (KOR), Lin Chih-Chieh (TPE)

FIBA World Cup: Manu Ginobili (ARG), Krunoslav Simon (CRO), Konstatinos Sloukas (GRE)

Should Lassiter get the nod at the 2 spot, he’ll have the unenviable task of guarding one of the most successful “imports” in the NBA – Manu Ginobili. I’m sure Lassiter will relish at the chance to go at the multi-titled Argentine, but he might get more than he asks for, too. Still, I believe Lassiter has enough in him to give even Manu, and the others on that list, a stiff fight.

In the next post, we’ll begin evaluating possible candidates at point guard, and we’ll begin with an obvious choice — San Mig Coffee’s Mark Barroca.

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