Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao is still hoping that Marcio Lassiter can recover from his MCL sprain in time for the FIBA World Cup next month.
Lassiter injured his knee in San Miguel's semifinals-clinching game against NorthPort Wednesday night. The Beermen's management said Thursday morning that Lassiter will be out for six weeks, which means that he will miss the remainder of the PBA playoffs and the global tournament that will start on August 31 in China.
"Of course, it's very sad news for us," said Guiao. "Marcio is one of the key players in this team. We will miss him but we're not giving up all hope yet. He might be able to recover quickly. He will always have a slot in the team if he's healthy."
With Lassiter sidelined, fellow shooter Matthew Wright is expected to have a bigger responsibility. Wright averaged 5.9 points on 32 percent shooting from 3-point range in nine games in the Asian qualifiers.
"Matthew will be an option in that slot though he's already there [in the pool]. I guess it just makes his chances better," said Guiao. "But as I said, we're not giving up on Marcio yet. We're still hoping that he can still catch up and play."
Wright, who last played in the fifth window of the qualifiers, is willing to embrace the challenge in Lassiter's absence.
"I am ready for it," said Wright. "It's unfortunate what happened but we just have to have that next-man-up mentality. Everybody has to make up for Marcio's absence. It's not just me, everybody has to contribute."
With the PBA playoffs still ongoing, Gilas continues to encounter problems with attendance in practices. Only eight players suited up in a light one-hour session Thursday night at the Meralco Gym.
Wright, Robert Bolick, CJ Perez, Kiefer Ravena, Poy Erram, Raymond Almazan, and Mark Barroca joined Andray Blatche in Thursday's practice. RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario just observed from the sidelines.
All players from teams that are still in contention were not available -- TNT's Pogoy and Rosario, Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar and Stanley Pringle, San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger, and Rain or Shine's Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga.
As Gilas gears up for daily practices starting Monday, Guiao once again requested the players to attend as many training sessions as they can so that they can run 5-on-5 drills.
"By Monday next week, we'll try to get them all together," said Guiao. "If we still lack players, we'll just have to ask some NLEX players to come in and help us out."