MANILA, Philippines - Smart Gilas-Pilipinas 2.0 flew to Japan Tuesday afternoon, September 12 for the FIBA Asia Cup.
Despite winning the 34th William Jones Cup, head coach Chot Reyes approaches the tournament with modest expectations, similar to what they did before competing in the Jones Cup.
Reyes opted to keep the roster intact for the FIBA Asia Cup but will be missing the services of spitfire guard Sol Mercado due to eligibility issues. Versatile forward Jared Dillinger will be taking his roster spot.
The FIBA Asia Cup, formerly known as the Stankovic Cup, is held every two years. Winners of the tourney will get an automatic berth at the FIBA Asia Championship which is the Asian qualifying tournament for the FIBA World Championship.
Tough road ahead
In 2010 the Philippines' National Basketball team, head coached by Serbian Rajko Toroman, finished with a 1-3 win-loss card in the preliminary round and was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Lebanon led by forward Fadi El Khatib.
In this year's tourney, Gilas 2.0 will face Lebanon in their second outing, Saturday, September 15 after squaring off with Asian powerhouse China on Friday, September 14. They will then face Uzbekistan and Macau on September 16 and 17 respectively.
On September 10, the team was honored at the Philippine Senate for their gold medal finish in the Jones Cup.
They also attended a courtesy call by President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang days after conquering the tournament.
Photo by: Robert Viu00f1as/ Malacanang Photo Bureau