Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Toroman faces new challenge

source: Joaquin Henson | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Toroman, 57, returned to Manila from Belgrade last Saturday. He has agreed on a two-year contract to work as a consultant with Petron, Barangay Ginebra and B-Meg in the PBA and San Miguel Beer in the ABL.

“My priority is the three PBA teams,” said Toroman. “It’s a lot of work. I will be attending the practice of all the teams and watching all the games in the PBA. I will serve as an adviser. I will not sit on the bench during games. Before, my responsibility was for one team – Smart Gilas. Now, I will be working with several teams.”

Toroman said he is excited to work closely with Petron coach Ato Agustin, Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen and B-Meg coach Tim Cone. “Of course, I know all of them but I know Tim more closely than Ato or Siot,” he said. “I’m excited to work with them. I’ve spoken with Tim before. I respect his work and I think he respects mine.” Toroman will also be a consultant for San Miguel’s ABL squad coached by Bobby Parks.

Toroman said when his Smart Gilas contract expired, his priority was to find a job in the country. “I love the Philippines,” he said. “My wife (Tanya) loves the Philippines, too. Right now, she is attending to obligations in Belgrade and will join me in Manila after a month. I had an offer in Serbia to coach a club but I wanted to wait for an option in the Philippines. I spent three wonderful years in the Philippines. I’m very proud of what we accomplished with Smart Gilas. I’m very grateful to the Filipino fans who came out to ask me to stay in internet forums, twitter and other message platforms. I think they showed their appreciation for what we achieved. I don’t even know them but they messaged very nice things about me.”

Toroman said it is gratifying that several of his former Smart Gilas players are major contributors in the PBA today. “I’m happy that they’re doing well, that they’re improving,” he said. “Jvee (Casio), Marcio (Lassiter), Chris (Lutz), Dylan (Ababou), Mark (Barroca), Mac (Baracael) and Japeth (Aguilar) are some of our players now in the PBA. I’m excited to be able to see them play closely again even if my work will be with coaches.”

Toroman said he won’t find it difficult adjusting to PBA rules despite his FIBA background. “With Smart Gilas, we played in the PBA before so I’m familiar with the rules,” he said. “There won’t be a problem in understanding the PBA game. I don’t know if my opinion will be asked on possible player trades. As a consultant, my role is to advise, to share insights and suggest inputs. Then the coaches will decide what to do when the game begins.”

Toroman said he will do his best in facing up to the new challenge. “I’m a professional,” he said. “I received an offer from the San Miguel group. It was an exciting offer to be involved with the San Miguel teams. When my Smart Gilas contract expired, I went back to Serbia and waited for 3 1/2 months. Then, I returned to Manila to gather my belongings. I’m happy that I can continue to be involved with basketball in the Philippines. I’ve worked in several countries all over the world and I don’t think there’s any other country where people have a greater love and passion for the game.”

Toroman previously coached in Iran, China, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Cyprus, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Greece and Yugoslavia. He piloted Iran to the FIBA-Asia title in 2007, earning a slot in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the process. Last year, Toroman took the Philippines to fourth place in the FIBA-Asia Championships, the country’s best finish in 27 years resulting in an eight-rung upgrade in the FIBA rankings to No. 45. The Philippines’ rise was the third highest behind No. 33 Macedonia with +14 and No. 43 England with +13. The Olympic host country is ranked only two above the Philippines despite the presence of naturalized player Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls.

Toroman isn’t the only Serbian coach in the country. Zoran Djordjevic, 60, was recently named head coach of the Philippine under-21 and under-23 football teams. Djordjevic previously coached in Sudan, Yemen, Bangladesh and India.