Thursday, 19 May 2011

Gilas 5 faces Saudis in opener

Posted by chardyboy on Thursday, May 19, 2011 0 comments

source: By Joey Villar  
(The Philippine Star) 

MANILA, Philippines - Smart Gilas Pilipinas opens its FIBA-Asia Champions Cup campaign against Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia on May 28, seeking no less than a victory at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

As hosts, the Nationals are grouped with tournament lightweights ASU of Jordan, Duhok of Iran and the Kuala Lumpur Dragons of Malaysia and are expected to ease through the quarterfinal round.
The Phl-Saudi Arabia game is set at 6 p.m.

“We’re aiming for a finals appearance at least and see what happens from there,” said Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman. “We know the Filipino people are coming to watch and cheer for us and we don’t want to disappoint them.”

The Nationals are taking the Dragons next at 6 p.m. on May 29 before taking a rest the next day.
Malaysia is expected to field in the maximum of three reinforcements, including Filipino players the way they did in the Asean Basketball League.

The hosts square off with Duhok of Iran next at 8 p.m. the following day before closing out their elimination round campaign against the group’s toughest squad in ASU of Jordan at 8 p.m. on June 1.

The other group, considered the “Group of Death,” is composed of defending champion Mahram of Iran, reigning West Arab League and Lebanese titlist Al Riyadi of Lebanon, last year’s runner-up Al Rayyan of Qatar, Al Jalaa of Syria and Al Shabab of United Arab of Emirates.

Smart Gilas will be spearheaded by naturalized Marcus Douthit, and a pair of pro cagers in Asi Taulava of Meralco and Dondon Hontiveros of Air21.

Toroman had hoped to get Kelly Williams, Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo of back-to-back PBA champion Talk n Text but the troika begged off to backstop the team in the nine-day event.

Still, the Gilas roster remains formidable with team captain Chris Tiu, co-skipper Mark Barroca, JV Casio, Mac Baracael, Marcio Lassiter, 6-9 Japeth Aguilar, seven-footer Greg Slaughter, Dylan Ababou, Chris Lutz and Aldrech Ramos.

“We have to be prepared because we know the competition is going to be tough,” said Toroman.

Smart Gilas is seeing action in the annual event for the third straight time, reaching the quarters in Jakarta in 2009 and in Doha, Qatar last year where it lost to tall, more experienced Qatar and Lebanon squads.


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