MANILA, Philippines (26th FIBA Asia Championship): Buoyed by the semifinal finish in the 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup at Manila last month, Philippines coach Rajko Toroman has begun to look at a medal finish in the 26th FIBA Asia Championship as a possibility.
“What gives me the optimism was our finish in the Champions Cup which was very competitive and very strong competition,” Toroman told a group of journalists at the PSA Forum.
“A lot of teams had two imports and all the national players with Iran were there, and we played for third place,” he said.
The Smart Gilas Pilipinas team, the only team in the 10-team fray at the 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup to play without an import, used Marcus Douthit as a naturalized player, and finished fourth losing to Al Rayyan in the bronze medal play-off.
“I’m very optimistic. Our goal is set and it’s the Olympics. It’s about time we deliver something bigger,” Toroman said.
“I’m thinking of winning a medal,” he added.
“Whatever medal, it will be a good result for us.”
At Wuhan, Philippines go in with a fairly favorable draw in the Preliminary Round.
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 for the Preliminary Round before hosts China exercised their right of choice and opted to play in this Group.
Three teams advance to the Second Round, where Philippines – if they qualify – will be joined by the three teams qualifying out of Group C – comprising bronze medalists of the 25th FIBA Asia Championship Jordan, another WABA team Syria, 3rd FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup runners-up Japan and Indonesia, whom Philippines defeated in the final of the 9th SEABA Championship recently.