Sunday, September 11, 2011

Smart Gilas Power House LIne Up Completed

MANILA, Philippines - With the addition of Marcus Douthit, Kelly Williams, Ranidel de Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag, coach Rajko Toroman is convinced he’s got a team that can reach the medal round of the 26th FIBA Asia championship slated Sept. 15-25 in Wuhan, China.

Toroman believes they can now match up with any team with a frontline beefed up by Douthit, Williams and De Ocampo and a backcourt made formidable by the entry of Alapag.

The Serbian bench tactician particularly pointed to Douthit and Williams as the players who could make a big difference in their Wuhan campaign.

Douthit is to match up with the likes of Yi Jianlian and Hamed Haddadi at center spot while Williams can play power forward or center, depending which team they play.

The two had never played together except in the Ultimate All Star exhibition match between Smart Gilas Pilipinas versus the visiting NBA stars led by Kobe Bryant.

“Marcus will play a big part. We didn’t have him in the Asian Games. Together with Kelly and Ranidel, we now have a solid frontline. We also have Asi Taulava and Japeth Aguilar who will contribute on these positions (four and five),” said Toroman.

“That’s what we need. If we had Kelly or Ranidel in the Champions Cup, we could have been more competitive in that tournament,” Toroman added.

“Marcus will be a huge help. He’s a huge presence for us inside, which was what we lacked for a long time,” said Alapag, the country’s No. 1 guard in the 2007 Tokushima Asian joust.

“We still have Asi in there, Japeth, of course Kelly and Ranidel. With them together, I think we’ll be competitive versus any frontline in Asia,” Alapag added.

Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim agreed Douthit would play a key role.

“Marcus should be healthy the whole time. He needs to be in tip-top shape,” said Lim.

Toroman said Williams and De Ocampo firmed up their power forward spot.

“Kelly is a great defender while Ranidel is very smart. I expect a lot from these guys at position four,” said Toroman.

While Williams has played with Smart Gilas in the 2010 Guanzhou Asian Games, De Ocampo has just joined the team but he’s said to be fitting in perfectly.

“Ranidel understands the system. He perfectly fits our system offensively and defensively,” said Toroman.

They played together for the first time in a tune-up match with Qatar Thursday night at The Arena in San Juan. They were to play another friendly match versus Jordan last night.

Meanwhile, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan stressed they would announce the composition of the team only after the FIBA-Asia Championship.

“We’ve decided internally to support the Smart Gilas II all the way up to 2013 for another round ofqualifying tournament,” said Pangilinan, whose group of companies is bankrolling the three-year program.

“We want to be able to ensure that we have another chance for 2013 so we will continue with the program,” he added.

Pangilinan was referring to the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where the top three finishers, not just one, are representing the region in the 2014 FIBA World Championships.

Smart Gilas is also expected to get back seven-footer Greg Slaughter of Ateneo and Aldrech Ramos of Far Eastern U. – With Joey Villar

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