ASIDE from basketball, there's one other skill Filipinos are good at which Rajko Toroman is most impressed with.
“Drivers here are like daredevils," Barako Bull's Serbian coach said, shaking his head. "They can penetrate even the smallest gap in between vehicles like slashers on a basketball court.”
Toroman has travelled the globe plying his craft, staying in places like Iran and China. So when he says that Manila's clogged streets are the "most adventuruous" he has seen, you better believe him.
The 57-year-old bench tactician even recalled one incident when he assisted Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra during his last visit here, and therefore travelled with him from one appearance to another - with a Pinoy driver at the wheel.
“The driver was doing everything on the road, speeding even on crossroads and narrow roads. He was swerving, slaloming between cars at high speed to overtake," said Toroman.
So terrified was Spoelstra, Rajko laughed, that he cowered in his seat “like a baby in the womb with his hands behind his head."
“Eric was really scared especially when we were on our way to Ynares Arena in Pasig. The driver cut through traffic, bypassed the roundabout and took the opposite lane at high speed,” he said.
Toroman has experienced being nearly hit by passenger-hungry jeepney drivers and almost sideswiped by rampaging buses, but that hasn't stopped him from driving in Manila's crazy streets.
He likes driving in Manila for one other reason - it's so easy to ask for directions.
“I like it here, you don’t have a problem (since) everybody speaks English, so if there’s trouble on the road or you need directions you can communicate well,” said Toroman.
It's so different when you're driving in places like China, where, he said, "if you get lost there and you don’t have a translator with you, you’re in deep trouble.”
Toroman has become so comfortable in Manila's streets that he said he can drive to places like the Araneta Coliseum, the Mall of Asia Arena, or the Cuneta Astrodome "even with blindfolds on."
He has even become bold enough to drive to as far as Baguio City with wife Tania.
“It’s (Baguio) a nice place," he said. "I love it there.”