FORMER national coach Rajko Toroman said Gilas Pilipinas will be hardpressed to get a win from its group in the Fiba World Cup in Spain in August, but believes reaching the second round of the tournament is "doable."
Speaking from his home in Serbia where he is currently based, the former Gilas coach said getting wins against Group B powers Argentina, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Croatia is "close to impossible" but refused to rule out Gilas accomplishing its mission of advancing to the next round.
Toroman singled out Senegal as the only team in the bracket which Gilas can beat, but insisted it won't be easy.
“I think it’s possible (to earn a win) but it will be very tough,” said Toroman, pointing out that Senegal will most likely be bannered by the Sacramento Kings' seven-foot center Hamady N’Diaye and Euroleague veterans like agile 6-8 forward Maleye Ndoye and 6-11 center Mouhamed Sene.
“We can beat Senegal, we can pull off a surprise, (but) we have to be competitive (when we go there in Spain)," he added. “It will be a very tough game. I won’t even be disappointed if we lose to them. African teams are athletic plus they have NBA players.”
Toroman's successor at Gilas, Chot Reyes, has targeted two wins from the bracket to reach the next phase of the tournament. But the Serbian coach said such an achievement would be "amazing."
“We need to win two games so we can advance to the next round and face Group A, where there is Serbia, Spain etc,” Toroman said. “Winning a game there is great, winning two games will be amazing!”
“It’s very, very difficult. Puerto Rico is a very competitive team not just for Philippines but for other teams. A lot of teams will have a difficult time beating Puerto Rico,” he said of a team led by Minessota Timberwolves star JJ Barea, former NBA guard Carlos Arroyo and former Petron import Renaldo Balkman.
“They have a good mix of guards and big guy, they have a good big man in Daniel Santiago,” Toroman said. “It will be tough but we have to believe that we can win two games and go to the next round.”
Toroman believes that regardless the result, Gilas' campaign in the World Cup will do a world of good for Filipino players in terms of experience and competitive level.
“For me, the most important thing is to get some experience and toughness for the Fiba Asia 2016. That’s the most important part of our participation there,” he said.