THERE’S NO reprieve for the Smart Gilas national team even if it hurdles Saudi Arabia in the opening round of the Guangzhou Asian Games basketball competitions next month.
Under the Asiad schedule, the survivor of the Nov. 13 RP-Saudi basketball curtain-raiser, to be held at the Huangpu Gym, will next take on Asian champion Iran (Nov. 16), Qatar (Nov. 17) and Japan (Nov. 19) in succession.
After a Nov. 21 date with either Afghanistan or India, the first-round qualifier collides with dangerous Chinese Taipei at Yingdong Gym the following day.
“Playing Iran, Qatar and Japan in four days is a tough schedule,” said RP coach Rajko Toroman.
Smart Gilas officials have high hopes that the Nationals will prevail over the Saudis and join Group F in the second round.
The top four teams from each of the two groups advance to the crossover quarterfinals.
China, South Korea, Jordan and Uzbekistan are bracketed in Group E, which will include two more qualifiers from among Hong Kong, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Mongolia.
A one-day break is scheduled after the match opposite Chinese Taipei.
The quarterfinals is set on Nov. 24, the semifinals on Nov. 25 and the gold-medal game Nov. 26.
“We will come in prepared, but I have to admit that the focus should first be on the game against Saudi Arabia,” said Toroman.
The composition and style of play of the Saudis remain a mystery for Smart Gilas, whose only glimpse of the squad came when it defeated a club team reinforced by some national players in the Fiba Asia Champions Cup held in Doha, Qatar five months ago.