The fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers meant a lot for Marcio Lassiter, as it marked his first time since 2010 to play infront of his compatriots at home while proudly wearing the Philippines’ tri-colors.
So just imagine the pain he’s going through right now as he and Gilas Pilipinas failed to protect homecourt.
Gilas went 0-2 in the fifth window. After losing to Kazakhstan 88-92 last Saturday, the Filipino dribblers bowed anew to Iran, 70-78, Monday night no thanks to the 1-2 punch of Behnam Yakhchali and Mohammad Jamshidi.
“The last two games were my first time ever in a national team playing at home in a while. It’s just… It hurts,” lamented Lassiter, who averaged 12.5 points on 6-of-10 shooting from deep to go along with 5.0 assists during that stretch.
“It hurts. It hurts really deep.”
What makes the loss to Iran harder to swallow is the fact that Gilas was just eight minutes and 25 seconds away from bagging home the much-needed victory, as they led by eight points after a Beau Belga triple from the wing.
But then, the Iranians — despite being depleted as they were without top stars such as Hamed Haddadi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami — proved why they are among Asia’s best, as they finished the game with a fiery 26-10 rally.
Gilas still had a chance in the end, but the breaks of the game just did not go their way. They were up by a point, 70-69, with a minute to go, but Yakhchali’s tough jumper with 42.3 seconds left was what Iran needed to get the win.
“It was close the whole game. They made about eight points at the very last minute,” said Lassiter, who fouled out with less than a minute left to play. “When I fouled out, it was a one-point game, so honestly, it was really close.
“To have the lead for like thirty-plus minutes, we had control of the game. In that types of situation, we didn’t capitalize on those things. It’s definitely a learning experience for all of us players. It’s something we have to understand.”
With the winless window, the Philippines has now gone to 5-5 and has now gone down to the fourth place, meaning that the sixth window in February 2019 against Qatar and Kazakhstan — both on the road — is a must-win. No mistakes, no errors allowed.
And for Lassiter, he’s optimistic of Gilas’ chances in that stage, as this fifth window have lit the fire within them.
“I’m not big on promises, but you know what, we’re gonna fight our heart out and the good thing is we could avenge a loss that we should’ve had here and we know we could beat Qatar so we might have a higher chance,” the 31-year-old swingman said.
“But there’s no promise if we don’t put the effort. Put out the effort, good things are gonna happen. When time comes, we’re gonna be dialing as one and knowing that we felt this loss, we’re gonna bring it next window.”
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