By REY LACHICA
Manila, Philippines – Smart Gilas II leaves for Taiwan today to see action in the William Jones Cup with coach Chot Reyes hoping to accomplish his initial goal – making his players more versatile and comfortable with one another.
“That’s basically our ﬁrst target and I believe it’s doable,” said Reyes. “I’m not hallucinating of winning the tournament considering we have limited practice for this tournament.”
Though the members of Smart Gilas pool were named as early as April, they started to practice only last Aug. 4 which according to Reyes is so short a time to make the team a title contender.
Their practice was even interrupted twice due to massive ﬂooding last week that almost crippled Metro Manila.
But he’s happy with what he saw in his players, saying they have the interest, enthusiasm and willingness to sacriﬁce for the good of the team.
“We set a goal for this tournament and I hope to know more about my players, that’s my primary concern. How they could help the team with their talent will be known during the tournament,” said Reyes.
The Jones Cup is the ﬁrst of two foreign exposures scheduled for Gilas this year as they prepare for next year’s all-important FIBA Asia Cup which is the qualiﬁer for the World Cup slated two years from now in Spain.
At the same time, Reyes said they will use the tournament to scout their rivals – to know their strengths and weaknesses.
With the talent of his players, Reyes is not discounting the possibility of pulling off a couple of surprises in the 8-nation, 9-team tournament that will run till Aug. 26.
They will face last year’s FIBA Asian Cup runner-up Jordan in the opening on Saturday before facing Taiwan B the following day.
Aside from naturalized Marcus Douthit, the other members of the PBA-backed Smart Gilas are Gary David, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Larry Fonacier, Ranidel de Ocampo, LA Tenorio, Mac Baracael, Sonny Thoss, Sol Mercado, Rico Villanueva, JayR Reyes, and amateurs Garvo Lanete and 6-foot-5 Fil-Am Matt Ganuela Rosser.
This marks the third time that Reyes will be calling the shots for the Philippines.
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