It’s no secret anymore that Philippines will have itself one tough journey in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, given the mere fact that it will have to face powerhouse squads Serbia, Italy, and Angola in the tilt’s opening round alone.
Former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Rajko Toroman knows, too, how challenging that path will be for the Filipinos.
“I thought that maybe the group was not so good in the World Cup for the Philippines because they play against Serbia, which, I think is coming with the best team, maybe last twenty to twenty-five years. They have five NBA players. Also, Italy is strong.”
Serbia and Italy recently announced their pools for the Worlds. The former has NBAers such as Nikola Jokic, Milos Teodosic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, and Boban Marjanovic, as well as Miroslav Raduljica, among others.
The talent roster of Italy, on the other hand, is headlined by NBA veterans Marco Bellinelli and Danilo Gallinari. Their pool also features Euroleague standouts such as Daniel Hackett, Nicolo Melli, and Luigi Datome.
Toroman, however, is a firm believer that everything is possible. For the decorated bench strategist from Serbia, the Philippines have a chance of pulling off a surprise in the tourney, and one of them is being able to upset the Italians.
“Everything is possible,” he said. “For me, the Philippines can make a surprise, but they have to play an excellent game against Italy and Italy may be a little bit on the best [chance] to beat them. Whenever you play, you have a chance to win.
“I think that the chance is against Italy than against Serbia,” added Toroman, the architect of the original Gilas program.
Toroman got to see Gilas’ talent pool preparing for the global basketball spectacle Monday evening, as his import-laced Mighty Sports-Philippines played the national team in a friendly at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
Mighty faced an all-Filipino Gilas as the latter have yet to have Andray Blatche. But the tune-up ended in an 85-all draw.
Toroman was, of course, asked about his thoughts of this particular Gilas roster which he had just seen. Though he said that it’s hard for him to judge based on the tuneup, the 64-year-old tactician said that this team has great shooters.
“They have great shooters. All of them, they are great shooters,” he said. “And with Blatche, you can stretch the floor. That will be a very, very competitive team. They have quickness. They are very aggressive.
“They have everything.”