Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Toroman waiting for a call

Source : Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Coach Rajko Toroman is still in Serbia waiting for a call to return to Manila, tentatively in January, and discuss options for a continuing involvement with Philippine basketball. He was supposed to come back for a meeting with SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan last Nov. 15 but received a letter a few days earlier from Smart Gilas operations director Butch Antonio advising the postponement.

Toroman, 56, climaxed his three-year Gilas assignment by steering the Philippines to fourth place at the FIBA-Asia Championships in Wuhan last September, the country’s highest finish since 1987. The Philippines fell two points shy of clinching the bronze medal and a ticket to the London Olympic wildcard qualifying tournament, losing 70-68 to South Korea in the playoff for third.

Toroman told The Star in an e-mail the other day that he is open to renewing an engagement in the Philippines. “According to Butch, management still has no decisions and Smart Gilas 2 won’t start until January so everything is rescheduled to January,” he said. “All I know about Smart Gilas is from the news that I read on the internet because I’m following how my players are doing. I always do that with every player I’ve coached, follow their careers. On my last night in Manila, the players organized a nice dinner and showed some video memories of our three years together. I told them at the end of the evening, do your best in the PBA, don’t embarrass me. I really do care how their careers will develop. In a way, that’s my ID as well.”

Asked if he would consider coaching in the PBA, the Serbian said why not. “I would accept a job with a PBA team,” he replied. “It would be a challenge. With the UAAP, I’m not sure since in all of my career, I’ve spent in pro basketball.”

Because of his A-grade credentials, Toroman has drawn interest from several teams but is holding off making any commitment. “I’ve received offers from European and Asian teams,” he said. “The most serious talks I’ve had were with a European team that plays in the ULEB (Union of European Basketball Leagues) Cup. Asian teams are also an option but I can’t talk of names before things are finished for many reasons. Of course, I would agree to a long-term contract to coach in the Philippines. The best thing for a team and a coach is when there’s time for development. I will always cherish my three nice years in Manila.”

Toroman said staying with Smart Gilas would depend on a lot of factors assuming he is invited to renew. “I haven’t received any offer concerning my possible engagement with Smart Gilas,” he said. “If I receive an offer, my decision would depend on who’s involved in the program. It’s not only about the money. I care about honesty and dedication. Besides, quantity doesn’t mean quality. In Serbia, we have an expression, ‘A lot of nannies (but) a bad child.’”

Regarding the recent Philippine victory with coach Norman Black in the Southeast Asian Games, Toroman said it was a job well done. “Greg (Slaughter) was practicing with us for a long time,” he noted. “I was also asking for Bobby Ray (Parks) and Kiefer (Ravena) to join our practices. Kiefer actually had several practices with Smart Gilas. Two or three players from the SEA Games team with some players from Smart Gilas 1 and the PBA could be the new national team for 2013.”

Toroman said he regularly checks on how Marcus Douthit and the Gilas rookies in the PBA are performing. “Marcus plays in China with Foshan,” he continued. “In his first game, he had 14 points and 10 rebounds. I don’t see too many PBA games but I follow the stats. I think the guys are doing well and I’m proud. I think it will be even better when they spend more time with their teams. The same goes for Japeth (Aguilar).”

On the Philippine women’s basketball team losing to Thailand in overtime in the SEA Games finals, Toroman said it was obvious a mistake was made when the referees counted a two-point shot for three to force an extension. If the shot was ruled a two-pointer instead, the Philippines would’ve bagged the gold in regulation. “Unfortunately, FIBA doesn’t have a rule to review the last two minutes in a situation like this,” he said.

At the moment, Toroman said he is enjoying his vacation in Serbia with wife Tanya and four-year-old grandson Djorje, the son of their daughter Sandra and the Dallas Mavericks 2002 second round draft pick Mlade Sekularac. “I’m enjoying with Djorje most of the time,” he said. “I needed this vacation. This is the reason why I didn’t accept a job offer that I had right after FIBA-Asia. I had to start immediately. Even though I’m a workaholic, I refused it. I had to take care of my health after the stress I went through, not to mention that I hadn’t visited my home in 1 1/2 years. Since I am passionate about my job as you know, I am using this time to follow the Euro league and Serbian championships.”

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