FORMER Smart Gilas Pilipinas coach Rajko Toroman is more than willing to lend a helping hand in trying to find and arrange possible international tournaments where the men’s national team can participate.
The 57-year-old Serbian said he’s always open to helping the Gilas program especially now that the nationals are in need of quality tournaments to play in ahead of the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship after its invitation to the William Jones Cup was cancelled by Taiwanese organizers.
“I have no problem (lending a hand), there’s no trouble for me,” the 57-year-old Toroman told Spin.ph. while on a short vacation in Serbia.
“It’s not up to me or you, it’s up to the national coach Chot (Reyes). I’m always here,” he added.
Gilas had hoped to use the Jones Cup as its final major tournament before it sees action in the Fiba-Asia tournament which the country is hosting for the first time in 40 years.
But time is of utmost importance and Toroman said the nationals will have to move on and not dwell on the missed opportunity of defending its Jones Cup title.
He said the most important thing now is for Gilas to play in competitive tournaments.
“There’s nothing more we can do about it. What we can do now is to find different ways to train the team,” said the Barako Bull team consultant.
“Gilas must have tournaments, international tournaments like invitationals and high-level tune-up games.”
Experienced in international basketball following his stints with the Serbian under-22 national team and the Iranian men’s team, Toroman has deep connections in both the European and Asian basketball communities.
Asked if he can get help on short notice arranging friendly games for Gilas in Serbia or elsewhere in the former Soviet Republic, Toroman replied, "Why not?"
But then again, he said it’s not his call.
“I don’t have a call from them (Gilas) yet. As soon as they give me a call, I can immediately contact some friends,” he said. “If they want to call me, they can call me.”
During his tenure as Gilas coach, Toroman brought the national team to different countries for training camp and scrimmages, among them Serbia, Australia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Japan, Taiwan, Qatar, Dubai, Lebanon, Mainland China, and Indonesia.
“Maraming contact si coach Rajko na teams, kasi kilala na siya, dati pa siyang coach sa Europe. Tingin ko madami pa rin makukuha `yun,” said Mark Barroca, the former Gilas team co-captain under Toroman.
“Hindi ko na rin mabilang ang mga nakalaban naming foreign and club teams noon. Mga training pool ng Partisan (sa Euroleague), pati nga NBA draftees nun nakatapat namin,” added Barroca as he recalled playing against the likes of Jeremy Lin, Alonzo Gee, and Lance Stephenson in an NBA pre-draft pick-up game in 2009.