CHANGING import in the homestretch of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations, especially if the one being replaced is the hardworking Evan Brock, was a hard decision to make for Barako Bull, admitted Rajko Toroman.
But the opportunity to get NBA veteran DJ Mbenga was just too hard to to resist.
“Evan is a hard worker. He doesn’t complain, and he works really hard. It’s just hard to let him go,” the Serbian coach said of an import who averaged 21.1 points, 16 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks in the 11 games he played with the Energy Cola in the mid-season tournament.
Still, Toroman knows it's not everyday that a PBA team gets a chance to land an import like Mbenga, a hulking seven-footer who has played for two Los Angeles Lakers champion teams in the NBA.
The Barako Bull consultant, however, said the NBA veteran must be more aggressive on offense if he is to make a big difference as the Energy Cola fight for a playoff berth in their final three games in the elims starting with a match against Petron on Sunday.
“Of course when you play with Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant, his (Mbenga’s) role was totally different. He must make adjustments and come off the bench,” said Toroman.
“But now, he must be a bigger threat offensively to help us score, though what we expect from him is block shots, play good defense, grab rebounds, and change the shots of our opponents.”
Toroman said he’s aware Mbenga has never been a big-time scorer in his seven-year NBA career, and he doesn't plan to turn him into one with Barako Bull.
“We won’t transform him to be an offensive guy or expect him to score 40 points, but what we demand from him is defense. If he can make some putback and score there, it will be good for us,” he added.