RUMOR: Former national coach Rajko Toroman will be handling one of the San Miguel Corporation-owned teams starting next season.
FACTS: It took just a six-word text message from San Miguel Corp. director of sports Noli Eala to confirm that there’s more to talks of an impending Toroman comeback than meets the eye.
“[It’s] something that we are seriously studying,” the former PBA commissioner told SPIN.ph when asked about the chances of Toroman, the Serbian coach who had previously handled the Smart Gilas program, making a return to Philippine basketball by way of any of the three SMC-owned teams.
At present, Toroman is officially listed as a coaching consultant of Petron Blaze, although it is common knowledge in and around the pro league that he plays the same role with the two other teams under the SMC umbrella – Barangay Ginebra and B-Meg Llamados.
PBA rules prohibit one man from holding positions with more than one team, but talks of possible league action on the Toroman setup may be moot and academic at this point with the Serb set to be elevated to a head-coaching position by the time the new season opens in September.
There is also no legal impediment to Toroman’s ascension to the job and previous stands made by the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines against the hiring of foreign coaches in the league no longer sound as compelling in this age of globalization.
That settled, the only question left is on which team Toroman would best fit.
B-Meg is out of the equation. Not only are the Llamados coming off a championship run in the last Commissioner’s Cup and in the thick of the hunt for the Governors’ Cup title, they also have a coach in Tim Cone who was hired by the very people now running the show at San Miguel.
That would leave Ginebra and Petron, two teams which have generally underperformed this season and looked ripe for a coaching change.
Ato Agustin won the Governors’ Cup championship last year in a memorable debut season with Petron, but it has been mostly downhill from there on for the Boosters and the former league MVP.
The Boosters finished third in the Philippine Cup after throwing away a 3-1 series lead against Talk ‘N Text, fell way out of the playoff places in ninth in the last Commissioner’s Cup and their hopes in the ongoing Governors’ Cup are hanging by a thread.
On the other hand, Siot Tanquingcen has not won a championship in three years and Ginebra’s season has seen more highs than lows this season. The Kings finished sixth in the Philippine Cup, third in the Commissioner’s Cup and now are fighting for dear life in the Governors’ Cup.
From the looks of it, the two teams’ final games of the season are a veritable battle for survival – not just for the Kings and the Boosters, but more for their coaches.