THE last two matches give indications Gilas Pilipinas have a good chance of making it to the finals of the Fiba Asia Championships, according to former Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman.
“With all these results that the Philippines registered in the last two days, they have a good chance to reach the final,” said Toroman, referring to wins over Iran and India that gave the Philippines the top seeding in Group E.
But he warned Gilas against complacency as it takes on Lebanon, the fourth send from Group F, in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
“Lebanon is a strong team but in this moment, I see bigger chances for the Philippines in their quarterfinals match,” he added.
The Serbian coach definitely know what he’s talking about, because just a day ago his team Jordan was denied a place in the semifinals by the Lebasese squad.
“I see Lebanon give them (Gilas) a hard time and they will definitely make them adjust in defense.”
The 60-year old veteran internationalist also emphasized the strengths of the Lebanese, which he said could actually be tougher for Gilas than a semifinal match against either Japan or Qatar.
“All Lebanese players are athletic and they play good defense. They have a good league in Lebanon. So I think, the challenge will be more difficult for Gilas in the quarters,” he said.
“Remember that if the Philippines hurdles Lebanon, they will face the winner of Qatar and Japan series, those two teams stand less chances against Gilas,” added the outspoken mentor.
He also said he noticed big improvements for Gilas after opening game upset loss to Palestine.
“I love seeing how each player of Gilas give something to the team, everybody knows the role and I commend their efforts,” he said.
“But as the tournament gets tougher, I expect more from Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo and Andray Blatche, they will be the crucial players,” he added while also mentioning the value of newcomers Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva as well as veteran big man Asi Taulava.
Toroman said he will be on the stands for the next Gilas match.
“I will watch the games of Gilas. It will be about the team,” he said.