MANILA, Philippines - With top prospect Chris Banchero opting to finish his studies in the US, Smart Gilas Pilipinas said it needs another point guard to backstop the team competing in the Asian Games this year.
“He said he wants to finish school in the US but I will still talk to his agent and ask him to reconsider,” said RP team coach Rajko Toroman, referring to the flashy, 6-1 point guard at US NCAA Division II Seattle Pacific U.
“If Banchero is out, we’ll search for another point guard somewhere else, maybe in the PBA,” he added.
Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim confirmed Smart Gilas’ plan but didn’t specifically say which PBA team they would tap for a reliable guard.
“We’re looking at the team but things have to be ironed out first,” he said.
One of the names being mentioned is Fil-Am Ryan Reyes, who was traded along with Kelly Williams from Sta. Lucia Realty to Talk n Text, Smart Gilas’ sister team, last month.
The high-leaping Williams will join Smart Gilas right after the ongoing PBA season to reinforce the Filipinos in the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November and hopefully in next year’s FIBA-Asia Championships which serves as the qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics.
There were reports, however, that Reyes won’t be available since he would need to be with his wife, who is due to give birth late this year.
Smart Gilas is also eyeing American Marcus Douthit as the team’s prospect for a naturalized player. Douthit will show his wares in the MVP Invitational slated June 24-27 at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
The 6-5 Williams and the 6-10 Douthit are expected to bolster Smart Gilas’ front court that also includes seven-footer Greg Slaughter, 6-11 Jason Ballesteros, 6-9 Japeth Aguilar, Dylan Ababou and Mac Baracael.
The need for another point guard came about after JV Casio sustained an injury, leaving co-skippers Chris Tiu and Mark Barroca to man the team’s backcourt.
“We learned from our Doha stint that we would need another point guard in case our other guards get injured,” said Toroman.
The Serbian coach, however, isn’t giving up on Banchero.
A junior at SPU, Banchero led the Falcons to a 22-6 record in a recent tournament, averaging 19.6 points, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals. He’s also a 52 percent shooter from the field. He was selected to the NCAA Division II men’s basketball All-America team.
If Banchero’s parents will agree, he will be included to the Smart-Gilas lineup in the William Jones Cup on July 13-21 in Taiwan, and probably in the tough FIBA-Asia Stankovic Cup on Aug. 7-15 in Beirut, Lebanon.
In the Stankovic Cup, the Philippines will play against the national teams of Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Qatar, South Korea, Japan, Uzbekistan and Syria.
Joey Villar, Philippine Star