PSA: MVP Invitational C'ship a litmus test for RP-Smart Gilas

June 15, 2010 8:15 pm 

MANILA, June 15 — The presence of the Jordan national team alone in the 2010 MVP Invitational Championships set next week is good enough to gauge how far the RP-Smart Gilas squad has gone in its preparation for the Guangzhou Asian Games.

National team mentor Rajko Toroman said matching up with the Jordanians in the four-day pocket tournament serves as a real test for the Filipinos since the same ballclub, handled by volatile Portuguese coach Mario Palma, will also be under the RP-Smart Gilas radar come the Asiad later this year.

Together with the major core of the team that includes naturalized player Rasheim Wright, Osama Daghles, Zaid Abbas and Ayman Idais, the Jordanians are coming over straight from a 20-day training camp in China and arrive on the 22nd, two days before the meet kicks off at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

The Guangzhou Asiad is slated on Nov. 12-27, with China as the defending men’s champion.

“This (tournament) will be an excellent opportunity for us to make a good grade. We know that one of our opponents in Jordan has qualified for the World Basketball Championship in Turkey and is considered one of the best teams in Asia,” said Toroman, appearing in the PSA Forum at Shakey’s in U.N. Avenue.

RP-Smart Gilas beat Jordan, 85-82, in the 21st Dubai International tournament earlier this year, although it was the Jordanians who eliminated the Powerade Team Pilipinas in last year’s FIBA-Asia men’s basketball championship in Tianjin, China following an 81-70 win in their do-or-die quarterfinals showdown.

The Serbian coach was joined in the weekly session presented by Outlast Battery, PAGCOR, Accel and Shakey’s by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Noli Eala, SBP deputy executive director Bernie Atienza and current PBA chairman Lito Alvarez of Air21.

Aside from Smart Gilas and Jordan, also seeing action in the invitational meet is the Dongguan New Century team of China, coached by Australia’s most successful basketball drill master in Brian Goorjian, and PBA teams Barangay Ginebra and Talk `N Text, which play as guest squads.

“It wa not difficult for the PBA board to convince two of their teams to compete in the MVP Invitational Invitational. We talked to Mr. Robert Non (Barangay Ginebra Board of Governor) if the popular Ginebras could accomodate the tourney in their schedule and they consented immediately," said Alvarez, also team manager of the Express.

“As to Talk 'N' Text’s part, I think it’s no brainer why they are participating," added the PBA chairman, obviously referring to SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan, who owns the Tropang Texters team in the pro league.

Eala said invitations were also coursed through other Asian countries like reigning FIBA-Asia champion Iran, Chinese-Taipei, Korea, Japan and Australia.

“But some of them like Iran, already have other plans, while `yung Korean team is basically hindi pa buo, so they have to beg off,” the SBP executive director pointed out.

Nonetheless, Eala said he expects the single-round robin tournament to be very competitive with the presence of Jordan and the Dongguan New Century team, led by national team selection Kai Zhang.

The SBP official however, clarified that Ginebra and Talk 'N' Text will play purely exhibition games, although matches to be played against the two pro ballclubs will count on the team standings of the three other competing squads.

Opening day schedule pits Jordan against Barangay Ginebra at 4:30 p.m., followed by the opening ceremony two hours later, and capped by the Smart-Gilas-Dongguan match at 7:30 p.m.

On the 25th, it will be Dongguan versus Talk `N Text and Jordan against Smart Gilas. The following day, Ginebra takes on Smart Gilas and Dongguan meeting Jordan.

The top two teams after the eliminations will battle it out for the championship on the 27th, while the third-ranked team meets Talk 'N' Text.

No cash prizes are at stake, according to Eala, in the tournament that serves not only as Smart Gilas’ build up for the Asiad, but also serves as a fundraising program of the SBP in its various projects and programs. (PNA) LOR


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