Currently on tour in Serbia is a first-division club from the Philippines, Manila-based Smart Gilas Pilipinas. Smart Gilas has recorded one win thus far, taking a 91-84 victory last Thursday over Super Fund, a team that will be promoted to the Serbian first division for 2010-11.
The Serbian tour is an effort by Smart Gilas to “familiarize itself with the European style of basketball RP Serbian coach Rajko Toroman is espousing.”
This appears, at least based on Toroman’s CV, to be an especially prescient way to train a team. Beginning with a stint as assistant coach for Team Yugoslavia in 1991, Toroman has since run up an incredible career with stops (and championship titles) all over the world. Toroman has coached clubs KK Spartak, MyGuide Amsterdam, Keravnos and even Debreceni VSC. Perhaps the greatest single success Toroman has seen was in international play: As coach of the then-unheralded Iran team buoyed by Hamed Haddadi, Toroman helped put that country’s basketball program on the map once and for all by destroying nearly all comers in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championships.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Gilas also managed to take OKK Belgrade to the buzzer in a 80-79 game on Friday night.
Claimed one Philippines-based media outlet, “[Smart Gilas] looked headed for a draw when a Serbian referee called a controversial foul against the Filipinos.”
Vrsac Hemofarm beat Smart Gilas, 98-67, on Saturday in the capitol city; Gilas finishes the tour with a match against – you guessed it – Partizan Belgrade.
Smart Gilas players and personnel seem to be pleased with the team’s results thus far; however, the Philippines team took a bit of a hit over the Easter weekend when one key player, i.e. an unnamed American player for which a roster spot is reserved, remained unfilled.
That player was thought to be Dwayne Jones heading into the weekend, but that thought was dampened when rumors out of Arizona reckoned the D-League big man would be headed to the Phoenix Suns on at least a 10-day contract as part of Steve Nash’s boys’ playoff push.
Jones ended up with an impressive line of 17.6 points, 16 rebounds (really), and 1.8 blocks per game with the Austin Toros in NBDL play this season and saw NBA action for a brief while when Shaquille O’Neal fell to injury after the All-Star Game. Jones also scored one co-Player of The Week award in March.
Though the Suns have yet to officially announce Jones as a member of the team, this would appear to be a foregone conclusion; Smart Gilas captain Chris Tiu tweeted just today (Philippines time) that “It looks like we just lost our prospective import, Dwayne Jones, to the Phoenix Suns.”
And so Smart Gilas’ quest for a big man continues … hey, isn’t Gheorghe Muresan available?
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