MANILA, Philippines – Fil-Am guard Chris Lutz may yet play for Smart Gilas in the 21st FIBA-Asia Champions Cup slated May 22-30 in Doha, Qatar, after all.
Smart Gilas will leave tomorrow for Doha in time for the nine-day tournament where it is bracketed in Group A with defending champion Iran, Kazakhstan, Iraq and host Qatar.
Group B is composed of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
Serbian coach Rajko Toroman said Lutz arrived early yesterday along with Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim from the United States and would play in the Nationals’ tuneup game with the Sta. Lucia Realtors today.
“He just arrived and he would play for us against Sta. Lucia,” said Toroman in the PSA Forum at the Shakey’s UN Ave., referring to the former US NCAA Division I Marshall U standout. “He hasn’t practiced for weeks now, we’ll see what he can do but he will definitely come with us in Doha and we’ll see what happens.”
The arrival of the 6-4 Lutz, who averaged 8.7 points including an impressive .421 shooting clip from behind the arc, 1.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a steal a game for the Thundering Herd in the recently concluded NCAA season, should be a big boost to the team depleted by the sidelining of JV Casio and Fil-Am Marcio Lassiter due to injuries.
Casio, the best guard in last January’s Dubai Invitational where the Filipinos finished third, tore an MCL in Serbia while Lassiter hurt his knee in an exhibition game in San Diego, California.
Smart Gilas’ import Serbian Milan Vucicevic said he is ready to help the team bidding to improve its fifth place finish the last time out.