Thursday, September 8, 2011
Jayvee Casio and Marcio Lassiter of Powerade Playing With a Filipino Heart
Jayvee Casio, the top overall rookie pick in the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft, has yet to play a single game as a professional basketball player for the Powerade Tigers.
But the 5-foot-10 guard and his new PBA team have already made a consensus when it comes to serving the country.
“I will always welcome the opportunity of playing for the national team,” Casio said prior to signing a three-year, maximum rookie contract with the Tigers on Wednesday night.
“As long as the national team needs me, I will be glad to serve the country.”
Casio, who has spent the last three years starring for the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team, became even more inspired when his new squad said that it was more than willing to support the national cause.
“A lot of PBA teams may not agree lending their players to the national team now, but we in Powerade have made a stand supporting the national cause,” said team governor JB Baylon, who also currently serves as the vice chairman of the PBA board.
“Even if they ask for another player, we are willing to sacrifice for the country.”
Apart from Casio, Powerade also drafted another SMART-Gilas stalwart, Marcio Lassiter, the No. 4 overall pick.
Casio and Lassiter will join SMART-Gilas for the team’s final mission: the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championship, which serves as the qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics. The team will travel to Wuhan, China for the tournament on September 15, and won’t be available to join the Tigers until the last week of the month — barely a few days before the start of the new PBA season.
But Powerade coach Bo Perasol expects instant impact when the two rookies finally join the squad.
“I expect an immediate change, but changing our fortunes in an instant is another story,” said Perasol, referring to the Tigers’ recent history of poor performances. “But if you will ask me about upgrade from the previous seasons, we have no reason not to improve because we have already improved our line up.”
Perasol said they have already ten players on the team, which include the two rookies, main man Gary David, new acquisitions Doug Kramer and Josh Vanlandingham, Jai Reyes, Celino Cruz, promising sophomore Sean Anthony, and veteran center Dennis Espino. Also in the roster is the comebacking Alex Crisano, who has agreed to a one-conference contract.
“He told me he wants to prove himself,” said Baylon of Crisano. “And he was the one who gave me the idea to have him signed for a conference-long contract.”
Perasol, meanwhile, is happy with the mercurial center’s performance during Powerade training sessions.
“Ang laki ng pinagbago ni Alex and I have seen it, at least sa mga practices namin,” said Perasol. “I hope he can bring that big improvement during our games.”
Kenneth Duremdes, who was named of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players during the league’s silver anniversary, is also expected to suit up for Powerade this season.
Duremdes ended his playing career abruptly after being appointed coach of the Tigers in 2008. He now currently serves as an alternate governor for the team.
If plans don’t miscarry, Duremdes will be the first member of the PBA Board of Governors to play in the league.