SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team swingmen Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz will finally get clearance to see action in the ongoing FIBA Asia Championship.
A highly-placed basketball official told InterAKTV that the two Filipino-American players will be cleared to play before the start of the SMART-Gilas’ second round campaign on Monday.
“Their clearance is to be signed by Patrick Baumann, FIBA secretary-general, anytime now,” wrote the official, who requested anonymity, in a text message to InterAKTV late Sunday night.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios said that his office is still awaiting official communication from FIBA.
“Nothing official yet on my end,” wrote Barrios in a text message. “I hope it is true, but we have to wait for official written decision before I can officially confirm.”
The SBP decided to raise the matter to the FIBA leadership in Switzerland after hitting a roadblock with FIBA Asia officials. Lassiter and Lutz missed all three of the national team’s games in the first round of competition after eligibility issues were raised against them by FIBA Asia deputy secretary-general Hagop Khajirian.
For its part, the SBP maintained that the provision cited by Khajirian only applied to naturalized citizens. Lassiter and Lutz, who are each born to a Filipino parent, are considered natural-born citizens.
Several players from Qatar and Syria were also banned from playing for similar issues.
During the two players’ absence, the Filipinos were forced to play with a 10-man rotation, but they were able to salvage two wins of their first three matches to advance to the next round.
With Lassiter and Lutz joining SMART-Gilas in action, the team’s wing rotation has become deeper and will certainly give the squad a big boost in their 3:30 p.m. encounter against Jordan on Monday.