MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker wants to summon Barangay Ginebra's Greg Slaughter and San Miguel Beer's Marcio Lassiter to a congressional inquiry for declining the offer to join the Gilas Pilipinas training pool.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, said he found it unpatriotic for Slaughter and Lassiter to withdraw from the training pool preparing for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“I was bitterly disappointed, especially with the withdrawal and the reason that was given. Kasi hindi naman ang mga players ang nagsasabi kung karapat dapat sila sa team. It is always the coaching staff,” Barzaga said in an interview with ABS-CBN Sports+Action's "The Score."
Slaughter and Lassiter were added by Gilas coach Chot Reyes to the training pool.
The two players, however, said they would rather give way to the original Gilas roster that earned the country qualification in the FIBA Worlds by finishing second in the FIBA Asia Championship.
“They won that and I think that those guys should be the ones to go on and represent the country in Spain,” said Slaughter when he announced his withdrawal from Gilas.
Barzaga, however, said he didn't find the reason justifiable as the players turned their back on the chance to represent the country in a world tournament.
He added that Slaughter and Lassiter took the oath when they decided to become Filipino citizens.
“[Ang] status sila ay naging Fil-Am sapagkat ang kanilang mga ina at Filipino at ang kanilang mga ama ay foreigner... when they elected Philippine citizenship, nanumpa sila sa Republika ng Pilipinas. They take their oath of allegiance to our country included in that oath to obey our rules and regulations and if necessary, defend our country,” he said.
The congressman said that the players’ refusal to represent the country will set a bad example to young Filipino basketball fans.
“Sila ay tinitingala ng ating mga basketball fans, they are considered as good role models for the youth. Anong modelo ang maibibigay natin sa kanila kung makikita ng ating mga kabataan na yung mga mismong basketball player na iniidolo ay ayaw namang maglingkod sa ating bansa?” he said.
Barzaga said he is a fan of Ginebra, the team where Slaughter belongs.
The Cavite lawmaker said he will propose that it should be mandatory for local professional basketball players to represent the Philippines when they are called to compete in international tournaments.
“Aking tinitignan yung Presidential Decree 781 which regulates professional basketball… that it's about time that we have to amend this decree and make it an obligation of all professional, making it mandatory to them to be at service to our country when they are called,” he said.