INCHEON, South Korea - Gilas Pilipinas team manager Aboy Castro still sees Jordan figuring well in the medal rounds of the 2014 Asian Games basketball competitions even though head coach Rajko Toroman tempered down expectations on his team.
Castro has included the Jordanians as among the top contenders for the title along with perennial powerhouse teams in the region.
“Iran, Jordan, and China, I think, are the top contenders,” said Castro, who attended the technical meeting on Friday morning at the Samsan World Gymnasium.
Gilas Pilipinas will be playing most of its games in faraway Hwaseong Sports Complex, about an hour away from this city, starting on Tuesday against the top-seed team from Group B.
Toroman tempered his expectations on Jordan’s Asiad campaign as top player Sam Daghles is not with the team due to a contract dispute with his club team in China.
The Serbian coach will also doesn’t have the benefit of utilizing naturalized player Rasheim Wright.
Still Castro believes Jordan is a team that stands in the way of the Philippines in its quest to end the country’s 52-year gold medal drought.
“Jordan will not play with an import but according to coach Rajko, the chemistry is much better now. That’s going to be a lot tougher,” said the Gilas team manager.
Gilas Pilipinas defeated a Jordan team with Wright on its roster during the Fiba-Asia Cup in Wuhan, China last July, although Castro felt the American cager was not in his usual self.
“When we played in Wuhan, we were attacking him (Wright). We saw a lot of antics na parang ayaw maglaro. Kung ako si coach Rajko, tama naman ‘yung ginawa niya,” said Castro.
The Gilas official also had Iran and China on his list as teams to beat in the Asiad based on the line-ups that was bared during the technical meeting.
“Iran is always tough. With China, that’s just the junior team in the Fiba-Asia Cup. And it was tough to beat them. We beat them at the buzzer. The seniors’ team will have more height, bulk, and experience,” he stressed.
As to the technical meeting on Friday morning, Castro said the eligibility issue was not touched at all, with the discussion centering mostly on logisitics.
“Nothing really striking. It was mostly technical matters sa basketball. We talked about the venues, the uniforms, schedule, and the conduct of the game. Eligibility was just a small part of it. In fact, we really didn’t touch on it. No mention of any eligibility issues including the Philippines. It went smoothly,” said Castro.
The Gilas manager is set to leave for Manila on Friday night, bringing with him the passports of the players that were presented during the technical meeting.
But despite issues on logistics, Castro said he cherished his stay at the Athletes’ Village, something that members of Gilas Pilipinas will also enjoy.
“Be that as they may, I’m enjoying the Athletes’ Village experience. It’s a multidisciplinary sports. It’s a nice place. Maganda ang climate especially in the morning and the evening,” said Castro.