MORE than the offense, coach Rajko Toroman said he was pleased to see Barako Bull play tough defense in an 85-81 victory over San Mig Coffee in their tune-up game on Tuesday at the Ronac gym in San Juan.
Toroman said defense has been one of the team’s major problems this season and a big reason why the Energy Boosters placed ninth in both the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup.
“We played good, especially defensively. What makes me happy was our defense, because we played it at a high level,” Toroman told Spin.ph.
The Serbian consultant, now in his second conference with Barako Bull, said he intends to set his team up to as many tune-up matches as possible as he tries to get his players more accustomed to his system.
Import Mike Singletary had a double-double against the import-less and Marc Pingris-less Mixers, registering 22 points and 18 rebounds in 25 minutes before letting the locals finish off San Mig Coffee.
Returning import Marqus Blakely will arrive next week while the 6-foot-5 Pingris, currently in national team duty with Gilas Pilipinas, won’t be available until after the Fiba-Asia men’s championship set from August 1 to 11 in Manila.
The 58-year-old Toroman noted that newly-acquired two-guard Ronjay Buenafe is a good fit for the team because of his ability to shoot from long range.
“Ronjay played good. He’s starting to mature. He’ll be a big piece for our team with his shooting,” the former Gilas head coach added.
Buenafe, who finished with 20 points, landed on Barako Bull's lap along with sophomore Gilbert Bulawan under a three-team trade recently. The Energy Boosters parted ways with Don Allado and Jared Dillinger, who were both sent to Meralco.
Barako Bull earlier acquired Dillinger in a separate deal with Talk 'N Text for Sean Anthony.
The 30-year-old Buenafe is bringing with him solid numbers from his short stint with the Bolts — 9.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.09 assists in an off-the-bench role in 33 games this season.
Barako Bull was one of the teams to prepare early for the Governors Cup, joining the weeklong 2nd Al Shabab Basketball Championship in the United Arab Emirates in May where it finished fourth overall.