MANILA, Philippines—The Asian Games are just two months away and yet Smart Gilas-Philippines is still meandering in uncertainty.
After a decent fourth-place finish in the recent Fiba Asia Stankovic Cup, coach Rajko Toroman implored the PBA to release three of its players to reinforce the Nationals in the Asiad which will be held in Guangzhou, China, from Nov. 12 to 27.
But to date, it is still unclear whether two-time MVP James Yap, Kelly Williams and Asi Taulava will be green-lighted by the board to join the Asiad squad.
“They’re supposed to have a meeting in Hong Kong but they cancelled it. I think the meeting will be (sometime) this September but until that time we don’t know,” coach Rajko Toroman told Inquirer Sports Tuesday night, following the Nationals’ nipping of the SeoulSK Knights, 77-76 in a heated tune-up game at the San Juan Arena.
Yap will address the needed outside shooting of the Nationals while Williams and Taulava will add size and depth in the frontcourt.
Apart from the request for PBA superstars, the Philippine passport of naturalization candidate Marcus Douthit, which is needed to make him eligible for the Asiad is still being processed.
“We are waiting, still we don’t know if he can play or not,” Toroman added. “His passport is in process but for the moment he doesn’t have a one.”
Toroman and the Nationals will have to wait for the skies to clear and perhaps sit on pins and needles a little longer while he hopes that his plans for the squad would push through.
“We’re doing fine; we showed that we’re finally very competitive in Asia now,” said Toroman. “I think everybody has to support this team and I think the PBA will support us.”
But it isn’t just a question of whether the pro league will lend a hand or not. It is also a matter of when it will decide to do so. While two months may seem far away for some people, the Serbian coach knows these matters need to be handled with a sense of urgency.
“We’re in this situation that the Asian Games (are just) right here.”
Mark Giongco, Phil. Daily Inquirer