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Gilas cagers torn between playing for Philippines and PBA


NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan—Fight for stardom in the Philippine Basketball Association or continue serving the national flag.

The majority of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas players are torn between two golden opportunities that could shape their careers after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas committed to extend the national team program all the way to the Asian qualifying of the 2014 Fiba World Championship.

And they have to make a decision quick since the PBA Rookie Draft is fast approaching.

“I don’t know. Honestly, I’m still thinking about it,” said Marcio Lassiter, considered the Nationals’ best wing defender.

“Same here. Right now I just want to play hard for the (national) team and decide when I come back,” said Chris Lutz, a United States-trained player with Filipino roots like Lassiter.

Lassiter and Lutz, who both came from a US NCAA Division I school before finding a niche in coach Rajko Toroman’s rotation, were the early birds when the pro league opened the application for the freshman lottery.

Both, however, could still opt out of the draft, scheduled Aug. 28, if they want to.

They face the same dilemma as the other Smart Gilas players following the announcement of SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan that team sponsors have agreed to extend the program for two more years.

Players were also told to make a choice between the PBA and the national team during the sendoff dinner hosted by Pangilinan last week prior to the team’s departure for the William Jones Cup tournament here.

Aside from Lutz and Lassiter, team captain Chris Tiu, JV Casio and Mac Baracael have also remained undecided while Mark Barroca, Dylan Ababou and Jason Ballesteros seem inclined to join pros.

“I haven’t really decided,” said Tiu. “Some of the other guys are also thinking of either staying or applying (for the draft). But given the chance to serve for flag and country, I would gladly do it.”

Forward Japeth Aguilar, the top pick in the draft two years ago, could also rejoin the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in the PBA or stay with the Nationals, who are sure to keep naturalized center Marcus Douthit even after the Fiba Asia Championship next month.

Smart Gilas’ three-year program will reach its climax in the Asian championship on Sept. 15 to 25 in Wuhan, China, where the lone continental slot to the London Olympics is at stake.

The extension will give the country longer preparation for the 2013 Fiba Asia event.

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  • Don Torero

    simple lang ang solusyon sa issue na yan.  tapatan ni MVP ang suelduhan sa PBA. tapos ang problema.  it’s all about money.

  • Ros Bay

    Stay with the Gilas team. If you’ll prefer the PBA, then it’s like heading to a dead end. Just play hard always, you’re lucky to be a part of that team. If we were to switch places I wouldn’t even consider of applying in the pros. Besides the PBA will always be there and you can also join ABL or if you’ll have a good showing in the qualifiers you can even try foreign leagues.

    PBA is a dying league, as long as they will stay the way they are right now. Instead of spearheading the change of basketball and the right way of playing it, they’re making the development stagnant.

  • Anonymous

    stay on the NATIONALS

  • tru 2 lyffe playa


  • MarioC

    noon ang mga players nag uunahan makasali lang sa RP basketball Team. ngayon… ibang istorya na

  • gil lumapas

    i only watched PBA kapag semi-finals and championship…..boring kapag reg. games…..dapat ipatuloy ang programa sa SMart gilas….if they want to join sa PBA…tataba lang sila or maging bench warmer….Sa smart gilas nalang sila, may disiplina……

  • Levi or Levis

    I sure hope they would turn their sights on bigger opportunities – playing for the national team is an honor and will ensure the development of their skills in basketball…

  • slambuzz

    PBA’s popularity will surely soar again in the near future. Historically after the PBA SUPERSTARS failure to win in the ASIAN region, people starting to shed from the game, of course except  if Ginebra is playing. But after the win of SMART GILAS over IRAN, the inclusion of PBA PLAYERS in the next month FIBA ASIA  and the impending jump of SMART GILAS players to the PBA, expect another banner year for BASKETBALL as a whole not just the PBA.

    SMART GILAS vs JORDAN free live streaming @

    The PBA IS THE BENEFICIARY HERE, knowing this, the league has supported the program by lending its players to the national team.

    in fact basketball is alive, you can see in the blogs as thousands are watching the free live streaming from different sports blogs. SMART GILAS dont have the same popularity with the azkals as far as CASUAL FANS are concerned. Because GILAs dont have opportunity to be introduced to the TELESERYE LOVING Filipinos tru ABS-CBN.

    But for REAL SPORTS FANS who don’t even care who is PIOLO and KC, THEY SATISFY THIER THIRST IN BLOGS, real sports fans spent hours in blogs that offer live streams and full video replays. And its not just in hundreds, they are in MILLIONS.

  • war de hensam man

    the PBA is not like what it was during the 70’s to early 90’ seems the players in today’s generation just seem to play because of the pay and not out of their passion to playing the game and their commitment to winning every game they’re playing..pinoy hoops fans didnt care so much about NBA then and were die hard fans of PBA players and their respective teams..GOOD OLD DAYS (sigh!).

    • Gordon Montoya

      agree. Mas pinanuod ko yung laban ng Gilas kesa PBA finals kahit tambak na yung Taipei. Parang walang teamwork at play ang PBA. Agawang buko na lang sila. 

  • Jao Romero

    they’ll have better international visibility in the National Team than in the PBA. the league is dying anyway.

    • Reggie

      It’s not dying, it’s long dead.

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