TAIPEI, Taiwan - Smart Gilas II faces a delicate mission today when it battles one of Asia's heavyweights in Jordan at the start of William Jones Cup here.
While the Nationals have the talent and experience on their side, they have to play smart and consistent in their 5 p.m. encounter to have a decent chance of pulling a surprise against the team that finished runner-up to China in last year's FIBA Asia Championship.
The Jordanians are also the same squad that handed the original Gilas squad its first defeat in last year's edition won by Iran for the third straight time.
Without the luxury of a long preparation owing to the commitment of the members of the Gilas pool to their mother clubs in the PBA, coach Chot Reyes expressed guarded optimism with regards to their stint here although the enthusiasm and dedication showed by his boys during their whirlwind training has given him an extra push to work harder to make the team a formidable one.
Jordan's top guns will be high-scoring guard Rasheim Wright and Sam Daghles but that's not Reyes' concern, saying his objective in playing in the Jones Cup is to know more about his players and how best they could help their cause - which is to finish in the top three in the FIBA Asia tourney slated next year.
The top three in the FIBA Asia joust will advance to the FIBA World Cup two years from now.
Admittedly, the Jordanians are more prepared than the Nationals after playing in the Cyprus Invitational tournament although they dropped all their three games.
Aside from Wright and Daghles, Jordan also has Ahmed Al-Hamarsheh and Mohammad Shaher to rely on. For sure, that will make naturalized Marcus Douthit very busy in the paint containing the big men of Jordan.
Out to give him the needed muscle are Sonny Thoss, Rico Villanueva and JR Reyes.
Outside shooting could be the team's biggest weapon having 3-point artists Gary David, Larry Fonacier and Jeff Chan in the roster while LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado are expected to alternate in quarterbacking the team's offense. But what excites Reyes the most is the presence of Fil-Am Matt Ganuela Rosser who is very energetic and a dead shot from afar.
Other members of the team are Gabe Norwood, Mac Baracael and Garvo Lanete - all capable of scoring from three-point area. The last time the Nationals won the event was in 1998 with former MVP winners Alvin Patrimonio, Kenneth Duremdes, Vergel Meneses and Johnny Abarrientos leading the team.
Last year, the orignal Gilas team mentored by Rajko Toroman finished third.