Marcio Lassiter’s birthday wish is Gilas Pilipinas gold celebration
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Marcio Lassiter had one big wish on his 36th birthday and it was to bring home a gold medal from the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The 6-foot-2 swingman known for his silky touch from afar got his prayers heard instantly on the same day when Gilas Pilipinas reclaimed the SEA Games crown it held for decades.
“It’s a great birthday wish and it’s all for the country,’’ said Lassiter, a valuable piece in the Gilas rotation who aided the “Redeem Team” in blotting out the bitter silver finish in the Hanoi, Vietnam, version of the Games last year.
Gilas returned as the king of the region in men’s basketball with an 80-69 shellacking of host Cambodia, a souped-up squad of multiple American imports, during the gold-medal finale on Tuesday evening at the Elephant Hall of the Morodok Techo National Stadium here.
More than earning retribution after a stunning loss against the Cambodians in the preliminary round, Gilas felt relieved of gifting a nation hungry for redemption.
The San Miguel Beermen marksman, a frequent game-saver capable of consistently stamping the fight-backs of their rivals throughout the tournament, recognized that the trek back to the top would be strewn with far greater obstacles.
“I know it’s not going to be easy. There’s so much challenge because the other team has like five to six imports. I just love the guys that we have. We played together, all for one,’’ said Lassiter.
A team mashed together on the fly, Gilas had to conquer not a few challenges, including a very quick training camp, logistical troubles and an injury, among others.
“Those days of practicing got us inspired. We made mistakes, but it was also encouraging since these mistakes helped us grow,’’ said Lassiter, part of the core of the first Gilas squad formed by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas nearly 15 years ago.
“That loss to Cambodia was a learning experience for us. We learned from our mistakes and came out big today,’’ added the nine-time PBA champion on his second title with Gilas in the SEA Games after winning it all during the 2019 edition in Manila.