Indonesia will be heading to the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga next month without scorer Brandon Jawato, head coach Rajko Toroman bared Saturday.
The Serbian mentor said in an interview over Radyo5's Power & Play with Noli Eala that the Indonesian-American just underwent an operation, dealing a big blow to their depth.
"Our expectations are not so big that our best player Brandon Jawato is injured, which has hurt us a lot. Our expectation is to not to lose more than 14 points against Thailand at this moment," explained the veteran mentor.
"I don't think that, at this moment, without Brandon we can touch the Philippines and Korea, we'll try our best, we will do a lot of effort and for me it's not about winning or losing against the Philippines and Korea. The point is to improve, to be more and more competitive," he added.
Jawato only managed to play in one contest for Garuda in the qualifiers, putting up 22 points, to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists in a 90-76 victory against Thailand last November.
Also not joining the team is prospect Derrick Xzavierro, a 17-year-old, 6'8" forward who is seen as the future of Indonesian basketball. He recently committed to joining the NBA Global Academy, which will be followed up by entry to US NCAA Division 1 school Gonzaga University.
"This is a young kid who is the biggest prospect, not just in Indonesia, maybe the biggest prospect in Asia," opined the inaugural coach of the Gilas program.
"Next year he will be with the Gonzaga University recruiting him to play NCAA. You know for Indonesian player to play in Gonzaga, that's a big achievement because they have a very strong program, we can say that [Domantas] Sabonis was from this program who plays for Indiana, [Rui] Hachimura is also famous, a lot of good players coming from this program," continued Toroman.
Indonesia, which has a 1-2 record in Group A will be facing South Korea on June 17, the Philippines on June 18, and Thailand on June 20. They will be bannered by naturalized player Lester Prosper, along with mainstays from their 2019 Southeast Asian Games team.
The team need not win in their trip to Pampanga, for they scored direct qualification to the FIBA Asia Cup by virtue of being hosts this August.
"That means that we have two good point guards, [Andakara] Prastawa and Hardi [Hardianus Lakudu]. We have domestic players in Abraham [Grahita] who is probably the best player without Brandon in Indonesia. We have Arki Wisnu, who is a very experienced guy, a high quality player, and we have Vincent [Kosasih] on the [center] position who will replace Lester Prosper," enumerated Toroman.
On the other hand, Toroman, who mentored Gilas from 2009 to 2011, is happy that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas reverted to a national basketball program that is keen on developing players instead of wholly relying on professionals.
He added that he is keeping tabs on the young cadet squad, which holds the pole position in Group A.
"These kids are exciting, brilliant, very talented, they don't have experience like the pro players but they have a quality team, an amazing team, the future Philippine basketball." Toroman said of Gilas.
"I think they're on the level. I was really impressed and I was really surprised with the level of the team, and how they play. They play with a lot of confidence like 10 years in the PBA. They're amazing. They beat Thailand easily, two times with a big margin. And I think this team has the future, this team with Kai Sotto and Ange Kouame, with these young kids. I think that's a very competitive team in Asia," he furthered.
Speaking about Kai Sotto, the 66-year-old was supportive of the teenage center's move to the Australian NBL, since the NBA G League, in his opinion, caters to the playstyle of guards.
"And I think that was the best move in this moment for Kai Sotto, to try to find the confidence in this kind of league, very strong, very good big guys. I think the best move of Kai Sotto is he didn't play probably one year, he will need the time, but that's a very competitive league," said Toroman.