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Painful but necessary

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Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin opted not to wait – even a little longer – for Marcio Lassiter to recover from sickness as he named his 14-man roster that will travel to Europe for training camp and tune up games in preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) here next month.

While the national team mentor would love to see the sweet-shooting guard join them in their upcoming , time constraints forced Baldwin to drop Lassiter.

A 6-foot-2 Fil-Am guard, Lassiter is recovering from bronchopneumonia, which forced him to miss practice sessions for nearly two weeks, and with Gilas leaving for Europe tonight, Baldwin had to make a decision.

Baldwin initially deferred the announcement following the game against Iran, but a few hours later Gilas team manager Butch Antonio posted on his Twitter account the names of the 14 players.

The players joining Baldwin in Europe are naturalized center Andray Blatche, Ryan Reyes, LA Tenorio, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jeff Chan, Ray-Ray Parks, Marc Pingris, Troy Rosario, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo.

Baldwin however admits the decision to cut Lassiter as well as college standout Kiefer Ravena was a tough one to make.

“It’s a brutal decision for the head coach. Probably one of the few things in life I’d like to run away from every time I have to confront it… but you can’t,” said Baldwin

“It’s part of the job. But it’s the worst part of the job. I’ve done it many times and it never gets easy. I’ve been in tears making these decisions in my career. So it’s a little insight – it’s terrible,” added Baldwin.

Marvin Espiritu, who represents Lassiter together with Matthew Manotoc, said they’re still waiting for the San Miguel Beer guard to personally issue a statement regarding Gilas.

Baldwin and the rest of the national team will travel tonight, first holding a 10-day training camp in Greece. After that, Gilas plays Turkey in a tune up game in Istanbul and will join a pocket tournament in Bologna, Italy.