FORMER Smart Gilas mainstay Chris Tiu is delighted to hear mentor Rajko Toroman is now the coach of the Jordan national team, but at the same time has a word of caution for our very own Gilas Pilipinas squad.
“I’m happy for him,” said Tiu, when asked by Spin.ph about his longtime coach who assumed his new job just last week. “Pero natatakot din ako para sa Pilipinas. Siyempre makakalaban natin sila sa mga tournaments.”
The coaching job overseas is the first for Toroman after a five-year stay in the country where the Serb served as Smart Gilas mentor and later, as active consultant for both Petron and Barako Bull in the PBA.
There is a possibility Toroman and Gilas Pilipinas could cross paths in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea. The meet set from September 19 to October 4 will have the nationals aiming for the gold medal shortly after seeing action in the Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
Jordan finished seventh in last year’s Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Manila without star players Sam Daghles and Islam Abbas, while losing to the Philippines in the preliminaries, 77-71.
But it could be a different story once the two teams meet again with Toroman on board, according to Tiu.
The Rain or Shine sophomore guard said Toroman’s familiarity with the Filipino brand of basketball, not to mention his own basketball knowledge, will definitely be a boost for Jordan once both teams face each other once more.
“He knows our players, he knows our system, and he is a very talented coach. Definitely, pahihirapan niya ang Pilipinas,” said Tiu, who was part of the original Smart Gilas squad mostly comprised of amateur standouts.
On a different perspective though, Tiu is happy for Toroman whom he considers a friend and a mentor, saying the Serbian coach’s life revolves around basketball.
“He will be coaching in the national level again and I’m happy for him. I know him. Deep inside, he loves basketball very much.
“Basketball is his oxygen. Kapag wala ‘yung basketball sa kanya, parang hindi siya makahinga. I wish him all the best,” said Tiu.