Tim Cone believes that Jordan, reinforced by TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, is the strongest team in the 19th Asian Games Men’s 5×5 basketball competition.
And as luck would have it, Gilas Pilipinas was grouped with the Jordanians, who defeated the Philippine team 87-62 to advance to the quarterfinals.
If given the opportunity, Cone would love to have another crack at the same team later in the tournament.
“We’re hoping we could meet them again if we could earn our way back to the finals,” said Cone. “I’m nearly 100 percent sure they’ll be in the finals.”
Hollis-Jefferson, who was the Best Import in the last PBA Governors Cup with the Tropang Giga, torched the national team with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists despite struggling to find his rhythm early in the game.
Cone remarked that Jordan is the very same team that competed in the FIBA World Cup in Manila, with big man (John) Bohannon as the only change.
“We knew we were playing the best team in the tournament with Jefferson and Bohannon. They’re a World Cup team. They’re the same team as in the World Cup except that they hadn’t had Bohannon, which makes them even better,” said Cone.
“If we get a second chance at them, I think we can beat them,” he added.
Gilas, however, will need to get through Qatar first in the qualifications for quarterfinal match set on Monday, October 2.
A victory would guarantee a quarterfinal clash with Pool A topnotcher Iran.
Waiting in the semis is either South Korea or host and defending champion China.
“We gotta get Qatar, which we feel we could beat. And then we gonna go after Iran. I think we got a good shot at beating Iran, and that will take us to the Final Four,” said Cone.
“Then we’re gonna look at China and Korea. Hopefully, we can find a way to put a good game together there (in the semis) against either team, and then hopefully, get back and play Jordan again. That’s the goal.”