WUHAN, Hubei province - Half-Asian players are enjoying the experience of playing for their Asian homelands at the 26th FIBA Asia Championship.
Regardless of the debate about the legitimacy of their playing at the event, some US-born players with Asian ancestry stressed their motivation came from the heart.
"If feels great, it's like being born again," said Filipino guard Marcio Lassiter, who was suspended from the team's first two games because he lacked some of the necessary documents.
Lassiter, whose mother is a Manila native, nailed a team-high four three-pointers and scored 14 points to help Smart Gilas outperform Jordan, 72-64, in the teams' second-round game on Monday.
The Filipino-American felt hurt when people questioned his motives to play for the Southeast Asian country.
"Technically, FIBA made a bad decision. My mum is Filipino, so there is no reason they should judge me like a naturalized player. It hurt me.
"If you were born with some type of blood or culture, you should have the right to play for it. I was born in the US, but that doesn't mean I can't play for my own country - the Philippines. I am playing for the Filipino blood and glory right now. Hopefully, FIBA will make the rules clearer in the future," the 24-year-old said.
Meanwhile, South Korean swingman Moon Tae-jong was also born in the US and just acquired Korean citizenship in July.
Moon, who was born to a Korean-American mother in Seoul and was originally named Greg Stevenson, said he chose to play for South Korea due to his mother.
"I will try my best to represent Korea and help us get to the Olympics. It's an honor to play for my mother's country, and the place of my birth.
"I think I am different from those naturalized players who have no blood links to the country they play for. I am looking forward to moving back to Korea soon," said Moon, who averaged a team-high 16 points during the first four games.
The 35-year-old sharp shooter, who joined the Korean top league's ET Land Elephant club last year, plays American-style basketball, featuring pull-up jumpers and penetration.
"His role on our roster is mainly to shoot from the perimeter and draw defenses out of the paint. So far, he's done a pretty good job," Korean coach Hur Jae said.
Although he only knows a few Korean words, Moon said it wouldn't stop him from working with his teammates.
"I am still trying to get my rhythm. My shooting wasn't as good as it should be. It was better today. I have been with the team for just two months, but I am fitting in well now. I am still making adjustments and I am trying to learn more Korean," Moon said after scoring 21 points in a 106-57 victory over Uzbekistan on Monday.
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