Monday, July 19, 2010

Gilas faces acid test in last 3 games

HSINCHUANG CITY — For Serbian coach Rajko Toroman, the last three games of the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas, including a mouth-watering match-up with Lebanon, would give them at least an idea on how they will fare in the coming Guangzhou Asian Games.
Their first three games in the 32nd William R. Jones Cup was a roller-coaster round, beating the inexperienced Chinese Taipei’s University All-Stars (83-52) in the first game, lost to World Championship-bound and defending champion Iran (68-81) in the second game before bouncing back with a 90-64 drubbing of the Australian Crocodiles (90-64) last Friday.
The Nationals are playing against the Chinese Taipei national team (2-2) at presstime at the Hsinchuang Gymnasium in Taipei County.
“It’s a great challenge for our team,” said the 55-year-old Toroman, referring to the national team’s encounter against Chinese Taipei, as well as their game versus Japan Monday and another Middle East power Lebanon Tuesday.
“Japan and Lebanon are two high quality teams. We need to win two or maybe three games to be competitive,” Toroman added.
Toroman said that their game opposite Iran proved anew that the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas can challenge Asia’s best after giving the tall and experienced Iranian squad some anxious moments.
“After Iran’s game, I think that the difference is not really big. We’re getting close,” Toroman said.
Smart-Gilas is using the Jones Cup tournament as part of its training for the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in November.
The national team, a collection of top collegiate players with 6-foot-11 American Marcus Douthit a candidate for naturalization, is also training for the FIBA-Asia Championship in Beirut, Lebanon next year, the qualifying event for the 2012 London Olympics.
Meantime, in the battle of two unbeaten teams, Iran defeated Lebanon, 79-71, last Saturday as the Iranians remained on top of the team standings with a 4-0 card while the Lebanese fell to 2-1, while Japan downed Chinese Taipei, 94-85.
There will be no championship game in this tournament as the team with the best record will win the men’s title.
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