For coach Rajko Toroman, the Gilas Pilipinas squad playing in the 30th Southeast Asian Games is better than the team that played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup last September.
The Gilas program’s first head coach offered the opinion after witnessing the Filipino dribblers hand his Indonesia a harsh 70-97 drubbing in the semifinals, Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I think they still have better chemistry than the team from World Cup and I think that this team is better than the team in the World Cup,” said the decorated Serbian bench tactician.
Toroman acknowledged that the Gilas team in the Worlds had quality players led by naturalized center Andray Blatche, but the Yeng Guiao-coached crew lacked chemistry.
“You have some individual quality with Blatche, but they didn’t have chemistry. They didn’t play together. It was more individual play than the team play,” opined Toroman.
Toroman himself saw how coach Tim Cone’s team showed its camaraderie on the court. Gilas dished out a total of 31 assists, enabling them to shoot an excellent 64-percent from the field.
“They have better chemistry, they have better size, they play for each other. You can see thirty-one assists, that means they share the ball, which is very important in modern basketball,” he said.
“They have individual quality, but everybody is looking for the team,” added the 28-year veteran coach.
“That’s a better team than the team which participated in the World Cup.”
Toroman also noted how much of an impact shooters Matthew Wright and Marcio Lassiter have — both of whom were not with Gilas in the World Cup no thanks to injuries.
The two combined for five triples in the win, playing a vital role in Gilas’ 39-point third quarter explosion.
“They have the experience, they have great shooters. In the World Cup, Marcio, who is the great shooter and great defender, was not there. Matthew Wright was not there,” Toroman said.
“For me, that’s two of the best shooters in the PBA and best defender. They play on both sides of the court.”
Gilas has definitely come a long way since Toroman’s time nearly a decade ago. And he revealed that the Indonesian national team plans to take the same route Gilas took before.
“We try to do that. We want to make some kind of Gilas program there,” Toroman said.
“Because after the SEA games, their championship will start and the national team will participate as one of the teams, like we did in Gilas before we were the guest team in the PBA,” he added.
“We’re gonna play with Lester [Prosper], and the other teams will have three imports, two on the court because we have the best players from the league.”