Philippines sportsSmart Gilas gets Asi, but loses Japeth

Asi Taulava is in, but Japeth Aguilar is out. This was the mixed development that hardly lifted the spirits of the short-handed Smart Gilas Pilipinas five when it left for Beirut Thursday night to compete in the 2010 Fiba Asia Stankovic Cup set to start this Saturday.

A change of heart by Coca-Cola paved the way for Taulava’s stint with the RP five. The joy, however, was short-lived after a freak accident all but took Aguilar out of the tough competition ending on Aug. 15.

Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman said Aguilar sustained a long, nasty cut on the left leg that required 22 stitches after the 6-foot-9 former US NCAA player, tripped over a broken glass door in his house.

“We’re going into the tournament with so many problems,” said Toroman. “But we’re going there to win games, not to lose.”

Taulava, a vital cog in the RP squad made up of PBA stars in the 2002 Busan Asian Games and the past two Asian championships, will leave for Beirut Friday in time for the team’s opening game against host Lebanon Saturday.

“Asi can help us, he’s an experienced player and a tough guy,” said Toroman, adding that Taulava practiced with the team for a week.

Seven-footer Greg Slaughter is to follow the team Saturday after he was allowed to take a leave from his school commitments.

Smart Gilas will miss the services of naturalization candidate Marcus Douthit, Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Chris Lutz.

by June Navarro |


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