The proposal of Serbian mentor Rajko Toroman to reinforce the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas with Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players drew some support from the mainstays of the RP team but some are unhappy.
JV Casio, one of the point guards in Toroman’s backcourt rotation, said he understands the idea to invite some PBA players to strengthen the team for the various international tournaments but he knows their playing time will be reduced considerably.
“If it’s for the good of the team, it’s okay for me,” Casio, a former De La Salle University stalwart, said.
“I trust the judgment of coach Rajko. Of course, he wants to make the team better.”
The flashy guard, however, admitted that pros’ entry may lessen the playing time of the other mainstays who have been with the RP team since it was formed by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in December 2008
“For sure may mga tatamaan talaga kapag linagyan ng PBA players. May mga mag-tatampo. But it’s just natural,” said Casio while admitting that the possible inclusion of the PBA players could further give them a chance to prove their worth.
“As I’ve said okay lang sa akin, it’s for the flag and country naman e. Pero, example for me, to keep my spot on the team I have to fight for it. I should prove that I belong to the national team.”
Another Smart-Gilas player who asked not to be identified said that with PBA players coming in, playing time is really a concern.
“Maganda din kung mag-quit na and give way sa mga papasok,” said the source, who is reportedly on his way out of the team.
Aside from Casio, other college standouts who were with Smart-Gilas since Day 1 include Chris Tiu of Ateneo, Far Eastern University’s Mark Barroca and Mac Baracael, University of Visayas’ Greg Slaughter, Jason Ballesteros of San Sebastian and University of Santo Tomas’ and former UAAP MVP Dylan Ababou.
The Smart-Gilas roster actually got a boost with the addition of Fil-Ams Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz, whom the SBP got from a training camp in Las Vegas.
The Nationals also welcomed American import Marcus Douthit, who is now applying for naturalization, a step that will allow him to play for the RP Team in FIBA-sanctioned events.
However, after their not-so-good showing in the recent William R. Jones Cup in Taipei, Toroman believes the team still needs help from at least three PBA players.
Toroman has mentioned the name of forward Kelly Williams, whom he said will help improve the No. 4 spot (power forward).
Also in his radar is the versatile guard Ryan Reyes, Williams’ teammate from Talk ‘N Text.
Waylon Galvez, Manila Bulletin