, Philippines - Smart Gilas Pilipinas is set to play a club team from Korea twice before flying to China
for a series of tune-up games as it steps up its buildup for the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in November.
The Nationals take on the Seoul SK Knights tomorrow and on Sept. 12 at the Ranoc Gym in San Juan before leaving Sept. 13 for Guangdong where they are set to play a series of tournaments against local teams.
“These tune-up games are part of our preparation for the Asian Games because we know September and October would be crucial for our preparation,” said Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim.
“Our real target is to play five or more teams before Guangzhou,” he said.
The games against the SK Knights, in particular, are expected to be tough with the Koreans, two-time winner of the Korean Basketball League, very much familiar with the Filipinos’ brand of play, having competed in the PBA several times in the past.
Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, whose wards reached the semis in last month’s Stankovic Cup in Lebanon, however, said they have yet to decide the final roster for the quadrennial meet slated Nov. 12-27.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas had actually submitted an initial list of 15 names that included several top players from the PBA.
Among the pros listed were Asi Taulava, Ryan Reyes, Ranidel de Ocampo, James Yap, Arwind Santos and Sonny Thoss.
Lim clarified though the core of the team consisting of the country’s finest collegiate players selected late in 2008 would remain intact.
“It’s too early to decide the final roster but we’ll wrap it up maybe after our China trip,” said Lim.
The core includes captain Chris Tiu, co-skipper Mark Barroca, JV Casio, Mac Baracael, Dylan Ababou, Japeth Aguilar, Jason Ballesteros, Aldrech Ramos, JR Cawaling, Greg Slaughter and Filipino-foreign player Marcio Lassiter.
American Marcus Douthit, the team’s naturalization candidate, and Fil-for shooting guard Chris Lutz have yet to secure their Filipino passports.
After the Asiad, Smart Gilas is also seeking an Olympic slot in the 2012 London Games through the FIBA-Asia Championship next year in Beirut.
Joey Villar, Philippine Star