STILL groping for form, the Jordan national team beat PBA expansion team Blackwater Elite, 76-73, in a tune-up match on Wednesday at the SGS Gym in Quezon City.
The Jordanians used their advantage in height to the hilt to pull off the win, but struggled to peel away from a Blackwater side that went on the break at every opportunity with newly acquired Mike Cortez leading the way.
Former Gilas Pilipinas coach Rajko Toroman is nonetheless happy with Jordan’s performance considering the team had very little match practice in its preparation for the Fiba Asia Championship, forcing him to contact friends from the Philippines for much-needed tune-up games.
“I was thankful because the players of Blackwater gave my boys some time to sweat. They were running up and down, I can’t blame them, the team is very young,” he said of Blackwater, which now has former Toroman associate at Barako Bull, Bong Ramos, in its staff.
Blackwater assistant coach Boy Sablan said the game was very close from the start as the young players of the Dioceldo Sy franchise did not back down against their taller rivals, even taking the lead midway through the fourth period.
“Mas malalaki sila, may 6-11 sila, kami si JP Erram lang pinakamalaki namin, 6-8 lang 'yun,” said Sablan, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Tuesday.
“Tingin ko nakatulong rin sa amin 'yung Malaysian trip naming recently,” he added.
“Pero medyo nangangapa pa rin 'yung Jordan, hindi pa lumaro yung dalawang top players nila eh,” he added while rattling off the names of Zaid Abbas and Sam Daghles.
Abbas was left in Jordan after failing to secure a Philippine visa while Daghles arrived in Manila only on Tuesday morning from the United States, where he is now based.
“We weren’t able to play with the two, but tomorrow, Sam will play against Ginebra,” said Toroman of Daghles, who suited up as an Asian import for Talk 'N Text in the last PBA Governors Cup.
Meanwhile, naturalized wingman Alex Legion paced the Jordanians with 17 points, while Cortez scored 15 points and got the needed help from James Sena, Reil Cervantes and Bam Gamalinda.
The Jordan nationals will next play Barangay Ginebra on Thursday at the CCF Gym in Ortigas, before taking on the San Miguel Beermen and Barako Bull Energy in the succeeding days.
Blackwater’s tune-up versus Qatar was already called off.
Because of the hot weather here in the country, Toroman said he will only give his players light practices on Wednesday afternoon at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.
“Some of them complain of cramps. It is very hot here, so I will only give them some shooting drills,” said Toroman. “We missed a lot of freethrows so that is what we are going to work at later."
Jordan 76 - Legion 17, Alsous 12, Hussein 12, Alawadi 11, Abdeen 6, Alhamareseh 6, Obeid 6, Zaghab 4, Alfarai 2.
Blackwater 73 - Gamalinda 16, Cortez 15, Cervantes 9, Ballesteros 7, Lastimosa 6, Reyes 5, Sena 4, Agovida 4, Tiongson 3, Erram 2, Vosotros 2, Cañada 0, Golla 0.
Quarterscores: 16-17; 36-28; 50-52; 76-73