Qatar had five players deemed ineligible.
Qatar has been a thorn to our side and while losing five of their men would be disappointing, it can rid us off on a potential top squad at the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championship held in Wuhan, China.
However, we have a similar problem we need to address.
Apparently the FIBA officials think Smart-Gilas mainstays Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz are naturalized players. This is why both guys missed the team’s tournament debut against the United Arab Emirates. Without the proper “naturalization papers”, these two will be prohibited in playing for flag and glory. While Team Pilipinas won the match, 92 to 52, losing Lassiter and Lutz are a couple of bad developments for the squad.
As of this moment, this is how our 12-man roster looks like:
4 – Mark Barroca
5 – Asi Taulava
6 – JV Casio
7 – Jimmy Alapag
8 – Chris Tiu
9 – Japeth Aguilar
10 – Mac Baracael
11 – Marcus Douthit
12 – Kelly Williams
13 – Marcio Lassiter
14 – Chris Lutz
15 – Ranidel De Ocampo
Now if the worst happen, can the Smart-Gilas squad still use Dylan Ababou and Jason Ballesteros? The two are with the squad but they are just here to act as cheerleaders. Since the deadline for the rosters has ended, Team Pilipinas will have the un-luxury to play ten men if they dismiss the authenticity of Chris and Marcio’s citizenship.
But see, the fact that we are scrambling for the FIBA’s approval is stupid.
Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz will never have naturalization documents because they were naturalized already via birth! These guys have 50 percent Filipino blood! I really think that it’s funny that Asi Taulava, the guy that suffered the most with regards to citizenship authenticity is checking out this drama at first dibs basis. It’s also funny that Marcus Douthit – the actual naturalized player – is free from prejudice. I just really think that this FIBA inquiry is nonsense because they have approved of Lassiter and Lutz’ papers for about two years or so (Lassiter’s Smart-Gilas stint is longer). These guys have participated in the Jones Cup, Stankovic Cup, FIBA Champion’s Cup, SEABA, and other FIBA-sponsored events!
Allegedly, the person that terrorized the FIBA execs’ heads is the Lebanese coach. Maybe this is some sort of mind game he is pulling to ensure his team’s success. The team experienced some sort of revamp following the retirement of superstar Fadi El-Khatib from international play.
Hopefully this problem will be resolved ASAP because the Philippines could use Lutz and Lassiter in fending off the combined power, skill, and homecourt advantage of China – the team they’ll face next in the group stages.