IF given the chance to coach in the pro ranks, Rajko Toroman and the structured style of play that he prefers will fit Petron to a ‘T’ while the Serbian coach’s spartan approach can bring the best out of Barangay Ginebra’s young players.
This was the opinion shared by two coaches who had worked with Toroman in the past as talks of an impending comeback by the former Smart Gilas coach grew.
Toroman learned the intricacies of European basketball – with its deliberate, textbook style that relies heavily on set pieces – in the years he spent in Belgrade and he has since used that system to lead Iran’s national team to the 2008 Olympics and Smart Gilas I to a fourth-place finish in last year’s Fiba-Asia Championship in Wuhan, China.
That style should put a semblance of order to Petron’s shambolic offense and at the same time make full use of the team’s plethora of talent, according to a former Toroman associate who requested that he not be identified.
“The most logical one seems to be Petron because that’s San Miguel’s flagship team and he’s been with the team for a long time already,” he said. “Rajko will also maximize the talent of the players and put them in better situations to score.”
Another former Toroman assistant said Petron big men Jay Washington, Arwind Santos, and Danny Ildefonso, who all have reliable jumpers from the perimeter, will flourish in Toroman's system.
The presence of former Gilas players Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter and Dondon Hontiveros will also make the transition easy for the Boosters, he added.
However, Petron's surplus of stars -- and the presence of big egos -- can also pose a problem. “With the way Rajko coaches, there is no way he will allow that,” he pointed out.
“In this order: Petron, B-Meg, Ginebra,” the former Toroman assistant said when asked where the Serb would best fit from among the three teams under the San Miguel Corporation umbrella.
“B-Meg coming from Ryan (Gregorio) and then Tim (Cone) fits Toroman as well.”
However, he doubts if SMC management would find the need to shake things up at B-Meg, which won the Commissioner’s Cup championship and is in the thick of the hunt for the Governors Cup title with Cone at the helm.
“Obviously, he (Rajko) will not end up coaching B-Meg because they (management) will not touch that team,” said the former Toroman assistant.
On the surface, Toroman and Ginebra looked like a bad fit, with the Serb’s deliberate style running contrary to the open-court, run-and-gun offense that has made the Gin Kings the most exciting and most popular team in the league.
But it’s not all bad, he added.
He said the 57-year-old Serb could serve as perfect mentor to the team’s young, talented crew of Dylan Ababou, Allen Maliksi, and Rico Maierhofer. Ababou, in fact, had played under Toroman for several years with Smart Gilas.
“Ginebra would be good for him," he added. "The fans would love him as well as his passion for the game.”