MANILA, Philippines – Rajko Toroman commended the effort shown by Indonesia in their FIBA Asia Cup qualifier against the Philippines on Sunday, even as he acknowledged that Gilas Pilipinas was the superior side.
Gilas used a strong second half to rout Indonesia, 100-70, on their home floor at the BritAma Arena in Jakarta for a winning start to their campaign. Indonesia dropped to 0-2 in Group A, having also lost to South Korea in their first game.
Toroman, who coached the Philippine national team in 2009, said the Indonesians "gave their maximum" against a young Gilas side.
"I think they're fighting," the Serbian mentor said. "They try to do all the best. We were competitive (for) three quarters."
"Three quarters were very good for us. We were competitive, we were close to changing the game," he added.
Indeed, Indonesia made it a 4-point game, 55-51, off an Arki Wisnu bucket with 2:36 to go. It turned out to be the closest that the hosts would get, as Gilas scored 12 unanswered points to take control of the game.
Wisnu commited an unsportsmanlike foul on Thirdy Ravena with two minutes left in the quarter that resulted in the Filipino guard scoring 5 straight points.
The Philippines went on to outscore Indonesia, 33-17, in the fourth quarter.
"This team of the Philippines, in this moment, they are better than us," Toroman said bluntly.
"They have a very talented team, very athletic with 12 players," he added. "Some of them are 6-foot-7, PBA players – (CJ) Perez, (Justin) Chua, (Troy) Rosario, (Roger) Pogoy. But also, they have a guy who is dreaming about NBA, Thirdy Ravena."
Ravena gave Indonesia fits all throughout the game, coming off the bench to score 23 points and grab 8 rebounds. Toroman noted that the former Ateneo de Manila University star was not noted for his long-range shooting, but still torched his side for three three-pointers.
"They were more athletic than us. They have more big guys. They were out-rebounding us," said the coach. "They had 22 rebounds more."
"I think that the quality in this moment, the talent and athletic possibility are on their side," Toroman added.
Making Indonesia's task more difficult was that they played without a naturalized player, after the papers of Lester Prosper – the former Columbian Dyip import – and Brandon Jawato did not come through in time for the game.
Toroman is optimistic that with Prosper and Jawato, the Indonesian team "can be competitive with everybody."
"Brandon is giving us aggression. Brandon is giving us one-on-one (play). He's the guy with the most energy I have ever seen in my coaching career. That's what we need sometimes on the court. These games will be totally different if, let's say, he's playing," said Toroman. "Also, Lester also can help us."
"I hope they will be complete for the next window," he added.
Indonesia will play Thailand on November 27 and South Korea on November 30 for the second window, then complete their schedule against the Philippines on February 18, 2021, and against Thailand on February 21, 2021.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).