by Jonas Terrado
Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao remains hopeful that Marcio Lassiter can recover from his knee injury in time for the FIBA World Cup which starts Aug. 31 in Foshan, China.
Lassiter will be sidelined for six weeks after spraining his left MCL during San Miguel Beer’s quarterfinal win over NorthPort in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The timetable has put Lassiter’s chances of donning the national colors in FIBA’s centerpiece tournament, though Guiao is hoping for an early recovery.
“We’re still not giving up on Marcio,” Guiao said during Friday’s press conference of the FIBA World Cup Trophy Tour at the Lopez Building inside the Meralco compound.
“I was informed that it would take around six weeks for him to get back so we’re hoping that there’s a minor miracle can happen, and maybe he can get back in three or four weeks. That’s going to give him enough time to be with us.”
The possible absence of Lassiter will be key in Gilas’ chances of making the next round in Group D against crack European teams Serbia and Italy and African powerhouse Angola owing to his ability to hit the outside shot.
That is why Guiao is also preparing for the worse.
“We’re not totally giving up on him, but we are already preparing a contingency plan just in case he does not make it,” he said. “We’re very sad and we’re very disappointed that this happened because Marcio’s a key member of the team.
“Everybody knows that we need his outside shooting, especially in the international stage so it’s a big loss. But we’ll find ways to make up for it. Matthew Wright’s there, the rest of the team is there so we’ll find ways for everyone to step up.”
Wright has welcomed the challenge for filling in Lassiter’s shoes, given his similar ability to score from the perimeter.
“It’s gonna be tough for us but I’m up for the challenge. There’s not much to say,” Wright said. “I’m up for the challenge and I’ll be ready.”