Source : GMA News
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan arrived in Wuhan, China Friday for an audience with FIBA-Asia officials in the aftermath of the ineligibility issue hounding the campaign of Smart Gilas-Pilipinas in the 26th FIBA-Asia Championship For Men.
Pangilinan is set to meet with Hagop Khajirian of Lebanon, the FIBA-Asia deputy secretary general, later in the day in the hopes of resolving the case of Nationals Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter, who were both declared ineligible to play in the team’s opening day game against United Arab Emirates.
A team insider said he expects the meeting to take place prior to the game between Smart Gilas and 14-time winner China (8 p.m. Friday), with the hopes that a positive response from FIBA-Asia would lead to both Lassiter and Lutz being allowed to play against the host country.
The two Fil-Ams were barred from suiting up with the team as Hagop stressed they haven’t received the necessary documents qualifying both players as Filipino citizens prior to their 16th birthday, a provision that he said, is clearly indicated under the FIBA-Asia regulations.
Despite the absence of the two, the Nationals handily beat UAE, 92-52, for their first win in the qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics.
“I don’t know why FIBA was waiting the last few days to clarify that. We could have done something about it differently," said national team coach Rajko Toroman. “We can put Dylan (Ababou) and Larry Fonacier in the team. Now we stand without two players, we cannot put anybody else. It’s a big advantage for other teams and these are two crucial players in my mind on the wing position."