MANILA, Philippines (26th FIBA Asia Championship): Philippines coach Rajko Toroman expressed “happiness” at the groupings for the Preliminary Round for the 26th FIBA Asia Championship at the end of the Draw Ceremony, which was held in Wuhan (China) on Wednesday.
Philippines one of the four seeded teams – thanks to their semifinalists status at the 3rd FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup at Beirut last year – were drawn with GCC duo UAE and Bahrain in Group D before hosts China exercised their right of choice and opted to play in this Group.
“Obviously this was one of the easier groups. There’s no doubt in that. That’s why they (China) chose to play here,” said Toroman, who has been at the helm of a Philippines team under the Smart Gilas Pilipinas program for the last two years preparing for the 26th FIBA Asia Championship.
“It is a very good thing to play China without much pressure on the qualifying angle. We will get a reality check on where we stand and how we can adjust for the remainder of the tournament. Playing them so early in the competition is an excellent test for us,” Toroman told http://fibaasia.net.
“I agree we’ve got it a little easier even in Round 2,” Toroman said.
Should Philippines qualify from Group D, which Toroman was “very confident about”, Philippines will be bracketed with the teams from Group C – which comprises Japan, Indonesia, Syria, Jordan.
“I think we have got a little easier road to the quarterfinals, as compared to the other side. We have a few games where we can play with less pressure. We don’t have to exert ourselves too much in some games, at least I hope so,” said the Serbian who in 2007 led Iran to the gold medal in the 23rd FIBA Asia Championship at Tokushima and subsequently at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“But then, we have always had the rough side of the grass in the Draws. I think it’s only fair that we had to sometime get a favorable draw. It’s happened this time. We will prepare hard, and I hope we can utilize this favorable draw,” he said.