Friday, July 23, 2010

Smart Gilas team to weigh Jones Cup rivals for Asian Games

TAIPEI — Coach Rajko Toroman is more concerned with how the Smart Gilas Pilipinas five would fare against the other national teams than winning the championship of the 32nd William Jones Cup, which fires off Wednesday.
“The target is to see what kind of competition to expect in the Asian Games,” said the Smart Gilas mentor after the RP team arrived here Monday following a two-hour flight from Manila.
Toroman said the national teams of Iran, Lebanon, Japan and host Chinese Taipei havebeen among Asia’s top eight teams, with the defending champion Iranians proving unbeatable lately.
Iran successfully defended the Fiba Asia Championship crown in Tianjin, China, last year and the Fiba Asia Champions Cup in Doha last May.
Lebanon also poses a big threat in the Guangzhou Asiad in November with a bunch of veterans and a skilful naturalized player in Jackson Vroman, while Japan and Chinese Taipei have consistenly fielded strong teams.
“We’ll try to get as many victories as possible,” said Toroman. “If we have any chance to win the tournament, we’ll grab it. But the most important thing is to show that we are a respectable team.”
Smart Gilas will open its bid Wednesday against the Taipei All-Stars at the Sinjhuang Stadium in Taipei County and end its stint against Lebanon on Tuesday next week.
Toroman finally gets the luxury of a healthy lineup and a reliable import as the Nationals try to bounce back from a seventh-place finish in the Fiba Asia Champions Cup.
Back in the lineup are JVee Casio and Marcio Lassiter, who have both recovered from knee injuries.
Toroman also expects Marcus Douthit, a 6-foot-10 versatile inside operator, to provide strong presence in the middle.
Smart Gilas showed promising form when the Filipinos beat the Fiba World Championship-bound Jordan national team to win the Smart Invitational Challenge three weeks ago.
“We already solved our problem with the injuries and the adjustment of the players,” said Toroman.

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