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Gilas face Rajko, Indons



JUNEMAR Fajardo and Gilas Pilipinas clash with Indonesia in the semifinals of men’s basketball tournament.  DAVID JOHN CUBANGBANG

A familiar foe will be at the opposing bench when Gilas Pilipinas collides with Indonesia in the semifinals of the men’s basketball competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Serbian Rajko Toroman, who coached the original Gilas squad, will be steering the Indonesians in the much-anticipated battle set at 8:15 p.m.

The Nationals are looking to add the Indonesians to their list of victims.

They opened their campaign with a 52-point win over Singapore, 110-58, before crushing Vietnam by 41 points, 110-69, and Myanmar by 54 points, 136-67, to post a winning margin of a whopping 54 points in their Group A assignments.

Another victory would send the home team to the finals. But the Indonesians are tipped to provide the biggest challenge, especially with the presence of Toroman who knows Philippine basketball like the back of his hand after coaching Gilas and a couple of teams in the Philippine Basketball Association in 2012 and 2013.

Head coach Tim Cone knows that the Indonesians, who bagged the second spot in Group B, would be tough nuts to crack, but they are ready for the challenge.

“We all know who the coach is over there” said Cone, giving credit to what Toroman had accomplished in his long stint in the country, where he coached a young crew bannered by current Gilas stars Marcio Lassiter and Greg Slaughter as well as Chris Tiu, Mark Barroca and Rey Guevarra.

“He has contributed to where this program has gotten to right now and he coached in the PBA. We all know how good he is and how disciplined his teams are. They play with discipline and he as very good-shooting team.”

Cone admitted that he maintains a close relationship with Toroman.

But he has no plans of taking it easy, knowing that the Indonesians could pull off a massive upset if they won’t be careful with their attack.

“He’s a good friend of mine and it’s always difficult to coach against your good friend. But he has to do something and we’ve got to do something as well. We’re not going to hold anything back.”