FORMER Gilas Pilipinas mentor Rajko Toroman is so in love with Philippine basketball that the country will be at the top of his priority list when he searches for his next coaching job.
The 58-year-old veteran internationalist bared that he plans to take a three- to four-month vacation in his native Serbia before exploring his options on the next step in coaching career.
But he insisted that the Philippines will always be his first option.
“I would always love to be here. I don’t know but I have learned to love the culture and the people. And basketball here is really fantastic … maybe the best place in the world for the sport,” Toroman told
They Said It!
“I would always love to be here. I don’t know, but I have learned to love the culture and the people. And basketball here is really fantastic … maybe the best place in the world for the sport.” - Rajko Toroman on the eve of his departure for his native Serbia
on the eve of his flight to Serbia.
Toroman is closing one chapter of his celebrated coaching career in the country, where he was first introduced as the chief mentor of the original Gilas Pilipinas, which he helped to a fourth-place finish in the 2011 Fiba-Asia championships in Wuhan, China.
He later on acted as team consultant for Petron Blaze for one conference in the PBA before he took on the same role with Barako Bull the rest of the 2013 season.
Since he was dropped as Barako Bull consultant, Toroman has been a fixture at ringside in every almost every basketball game in Metro Manila.
His best pal, Allan Gregorio, calls the Serbian a "basketball addict."
“Lahat halos ng laro, papanoorin nun. Kahit hindi na kumain. Madalas nga kasama pa yung apo at yung anak niya sa mga games,” said Gregorio, a known Toroman understudy.
Even Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos has high praises for his former consultant’s passion for the sport.
“Iba ang pagmamahal ni coach Rajko sa basketball. Kahit wala kaming game, sige panonood 'nun,” he said.
Toroman left for Serbia in a 1 a.m. flight on Sunday morning (Manila Time) and he hopes that in the next few weeks, he will get another call from any of the teams in the country.
“I will always keep my option. I will wait and see what will be my next step,” he said. “Right now, it’s the beginning of most leagues in Asia and especially in the Middle East. I will go there when the season is over.”
Before working in the Philippines, Toroman was instrumental in leading Iran to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games - a feat that established the war-torn country as one of the continent’s basketball superpowers.