by Chris Tiu | chris-tiu.blogspot.com
Competition is even tougher this year since almost all teams are fielding in their national teams plus 2 imports. Last year in Jakarta, we finished 5th.
With our current lineup, our goal is to make it to the semis. Then take it from there. Iran (Mahram) is fielding their national team with the usual two imports, Jackson Vroman (6'10) and Loren Woods (7'1), both former NBA players.
Lebanon (Al Riyadi) is also fielding in its national players, including Fadi El Khatib, plus 2 imports Nate Johnson and CJ Giles. Same goes for Qatar.
Kazakhstan is fielding its national team composed of players who participated in Tokoshima in 2007 & finished 4th place.
On our part, we're shorthanded right now because we're missing JV Casio, Marcio Lassiter & JR Cawaling in our lineup due to injuries. JV, who was the best point guard of the tournament in Dubai, provides stability in the team as our main PG. We will miss his ability to score & create plays. RJ Jazul, who is a natural shooting guard, will have to step up & play the point position.
I think i will have to play PG sometimes as well. Without Marcio, we will be losing some toughness inside the court bec of his physicality and aggressivity on both ends of the floor. He doesn't hesitate to dive on the ground for loose balls and that can be contagious.
JR Cawaling is a very skilled & creative player, too bad his knee is really bothering him. Instead, Rey Guevarra, my roommate, was chosen to be part of the 12-man lineup since this is FIBA sanctioned tournament. Both JV & JR are with us here in Qatar, while Marcio is back home in Manila doing therapy.
On the other hand, Chris Lutz arrived in Manila on Tuesday & is part of the 12-man lineup. He plays the position 2 & 3. He's very skilled, athletic and smart. But 2 days of practice is definitely not enough to learn the system of Coach Rajko thoroughly. He's still familiarizing himself w/ the very complicated plays.
For sure he will provide a huge lift once he adapts himself to the system & the team. We also have a Serbian import, Milan, who has been practicing w/ us for about a week & a half now. He stands around 6'9 but is not the most athletic & quickest player. He has a decent middle range though & has a wide body to bang w/ the opposing bigs.
Let's see how we'll fare in this tournament. It will be very very tough so I ask for all your prayers for us to play our A games and be injury-free. If you happen to live here in Doha, please come and watch the games!
I believe they purposely scheduled Smart Gilas games at 8pm to draw the Filipino crowd here, which has certainly infiltrated the scarce population of Qatar.
Your presence truly means a lot! Let's overwhelm the opposing teams by having the largest gallery! GO PILIPINAS!