TAIPEI — Smart-Gilas Serbian coach Rajko Toroman said Monday that the 32nd William R. Jones Cup is definitely a good gauge for the Nationals as far as their preparation is concerned for the Asian Games this November in Guangzhou, China.
The Nationals will be facing four national teams in Asia in this seven-nation tournament that will officially begin Tuesday at the Taiwan County Stadium.
“The target (in the Jones Cup) is to see what kind of competition we can expect in the Asian Games,” Toroman said. “The four teams will be here, Iran, Lebanon, Japan and Chinese Taipei will play in the Asian Games. This tournament is tough.”
“It’s very exciting to see how our team will handle the other national teams,” Toroman said.
The Smart-Gilas national team is in the final stage of its preparation for the Asian Games, with the task of winning a medal for the first time since the all-pro Centennial RP Team bagged the bronze in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.
Aside from the four national teams, the Philippines will also face an all-star team of host Taipei, which it will face Wednesday for its first game, and the 23-under national team of Australia.
“I think that we are more than ready for the tournament,” said Toroman, whose team is powered by former college stalwarts Chris Tiu, Mark Barroca, JV Casio, Mark Baracael and Dylan Ababou, as well as Fil-Am Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz and Greg Slaughter.
The addition of 6-foot-11 American import Marcus Douthit, according to Toroman, will definitely be a big help on both ends of the floor, as he proved his worth during the recent Smart Philippine Invitational Championship in Manila.
Douthit’s impressive outing led to his signing with Smart-Gilas and his naturalization papers are now being processed to allow him to play for the Nationals in the Asian Games.
“Marcus is a good player. But I want for him to play with more energy, more intensity, enthusiasm,”said Toroman, who is excited to have Lutz, Lassiter and Douthit for the first time in a tournament abroad, as well as Casio.
Both Lassiter and Casio didn’t play in the previous FIBA-Asia Championship in Doha, Qatar due to injuries. The national team will be missing the services of forward Aldrech Ramos and JR Cawaling who are playing for their school Far Eastern University in the UAAP.
Jonas Terrado, Manila Bulletin