Wuhan, China – Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter were ruled ineligible for the opening game of the Pilipinas Smart-Gilas in the 26th FIBA Asia Championships. Hagop Khajirian, deputy secretary-general of the FIBA-Asia Central Board, said that the Philippines need to submit supporting documents that the 2 players acquired Filipino citizenship before the age 16 or else they will be considered as naturalized players. As per FIBA rules, only one naturalized is allowed to play in a national team.
The absence of the two prized wingmen initially affected the Pilipinas-Smart Gilas as they trailed 0-5 at the beginning of their match against UAE. PBA draftee Mac Baracael stepped in for Lutz and Lassiter. Baracael adjusted well to the extra minutes that were given to him as he topped the scoring with 15 markers to lead the Smart-Gilas to a 92-52 rout over the middle-eastern 5. Veteran Asi Taulava had 13 point and 11 rebounds.
The Philippines would need to prove that Lassiter and Lutz are eligle to play or else the country will be stuck with only 10 players in the line-up. Coach Rajko Toroman was disappointed that the organizers only informed the team about eligibility issues on the eve of tournament’s opening. Hopefully, the Gilas can use the apparent “oppression” to motivate them to win their next games. The Smart-Gilas will face host China in their second match.
Smart-Gilas (92) — Baracael 15, Taulava 13, Douthit 13, Casio 11, Barroca 9, Tiu 9, de Ocampo 7, Alapag 6, Williams 5, Aguilar 4.
UAE (52) — Ahmed 12, Alhattawi 11, Ahmad 10, Alzaabi 7, Salem 6, Al Braiki 3, Abdalla 3, Alsari 0, Banihammad 0.
Quarterscores: 17-12; 41-22; 69-35; 92-52.