If Smart-Gilas coach Rajko Toroman will have his way, he would like to have former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) most valuable player (MVP) Kelly Williams joining his squad for the Guangzhou Asian Games.
"Yes, we want to include him (Williams) to the Asian Games, but it will depend also on the PBA," said Toroman in a text message sent to GMANews.TV.
Toroman, the man responsible for steering Iran to the FIBA Asia Championship crown in 2007 that enabled the country to earn an Olympic berth in Beijing, was vocal about Williams’ inclusion.
Perhaps, the first step towards Williams joining Smart-Gilas had already been achieved after Talk ‘N Text acquired him and Ryan Reyes in a three-team, nine-player trade.
Like Smart-Gilas, Talk ‘N Text is one among the few teams being bankrolled by businessman/sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan.
But Toroman still needs the PBA board’s approval in loaning Williams to the Gilas developmental squad, which is a non-PBA member.
Williams will definitely not be included in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup set to begin next week in Doha, Qatar.
Talented Filipino-American guard Chris Lutz, however, will join the team in Doha after the Marshall University standout arrived Tuesday from the United States. He is expected to take the place of Marcio Lassiter, who suffered a slight tear on his right knee.
"Maybe Lutz can replace him, but we will see," said Toroman.
Lutz, a 24-year-old combo guard, was the all-time leading scorer while playing for Trinity High School before going to the Thundering Herd. The 6-foot-3 Lutz averaged 8.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists while playing for the US NCAA Division I team.
He once worked out for the national developmental team and quickly impressed everyone, including Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes.
“I had the opportunity of seeing (Lutz) play here. Smart-Gilas was playing tune up games against us and I was impressed with his versatility. He can shoot, can slash and plays with a lot of energy," said Reyes.
Lutz will definitely be a welcome addition to the Gilas squad battered with injuries. Team captain Christ Tiu is playing with an injury along with Mark Baracael, JR Cawaling and guard JV Casio, who was named the best playmaker in a Dubai meet but is now rehabilitating from an ACL injury.
"Not so nice for the team right now because we have a lot of injuries," said Toroman. "We have a lot of work to do in the Champions Cup because all teams go to Doha to win."
Slaughter, Serbian import bolster Gilas’ frontline
"He’s getting better and better," said Toroman on the 6-foot-11 pride of University of Visayas, who will suit up for the Ateneo Eagles in next year’s UAAP wars.
Serbian import Milan Vucicevic, according to Toroman, had slowly got himself accustomed with the Philippines’ hot and humid conditions as well as with his teammates.
Vucicevic had various stints in basketball leagues in Cyprus, Oman, Ukraine, Greece and Poland. He is described by Toroman as a "good player, with a good attitude."
"If he could help enough the team, we’ll make a deal with him after Doha. It’s all up to him," said Toroman of the Serbian import. – JVP/Rey Joble, GMANews.TV