(UPDATED) Gilas Pilipinas needs height to contend with the giants of the FIBA World Cup but they will need to look elsewhere as Greg Slaughter declined the invitation to be a part of the 17-man Gilas pool.
In a special press conference held during the second quarter of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup game between the San Miguel Beermen and Meralco Bolts, Slaughter announced his decision.
“I will not be joining Gilas. I’m very honored that I was selected,” Slaughter said. “But being a part of Gilas for four years, I know how hard to it is when new guys come in and take some spots, having the pressure of not knowing the roster spots.”
Slaughter was one of five additions to Gilas along with Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee and Beau Belga, San Miguel Beer’s Marcio Lassiter, and Meralco’s Jared Dillinger.
“The thing is they started back in August,” Slaughter said. “And I think those 12 should be the ones to go on and represent in Spain.”
The Ginebra big man also clarified that he already told Gilas head coach Chot Reyes of his decision.
“On Monday, he was the first person I talked to. Me and coach Chot go way back. He was even my teacher in Ateneo,” Slaughter explained. “Coach Chot is a very understanding person. He said he respects my decision and said it was okay.”
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Although he declined this invitation, Slaughter still hopes to get the chance to represent the country someday.
“Going to the FIBA World Cup could be a once in a lifetime opportunity but I think those 12 really deserve it,” he closed. “Hopefully I could join the next group. I would gladly represent the Philippines in international basketball.”
“Today I would like to inform everybody about my situation with Gilas,” Lassiter said. “It wouldn’t feel good for me to take away a spot from the other guys. They have some unfinished business to handle in Spain.”
“If I was in the same situation as them, it will be tough for me too,” Lassiter added. “This is not a management’s decision. SMC did not have a say over this. This is a personal decision.”
Lassiter added that another factor was his health. “I took a fall in my second year and it pretty much messed up my back. I should have taken the entire conference off for Petron but I decided to try and help them out,” he explained. “I don’t want to put the other Gilas player in a situation where they will have to cover for me because I’m not 100%.”
However, like Slaughter, Lassiter also expressed his willingness to join the RP team in the future. “If ever, down the road, I’ll gladly offer my services but I really don’t want to take away a spot from the players who deserve it more right now.”
We're 15-strong. We've always faced adversity. We've always found a way, or we will die trying #LabanPilipinasPuso
— Chot Reyes (@coachot) March 7, 2014
On March 27, the PBA's Board of Governors will decide if they will allow Gilas to join the 2014 PBA Governors' Cup as a guest team. This would dictate that the mother teams release their players who are included in the team. Ginebra already has LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar in the Gilas lineup. The San Miguel Beermen on the other hand will lose June Mar Fajardo to Gilas. Losing Slaughter and Lassiter could severely hamper the chances of Ginebra and San Miguel Beer of winning a title in the Governors' Cup.