The Philippine national Under-18 squad is getting help from a familiar face.
Rajko Toroman, the former coach of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national program, has been consulting for youth team coach Olsen Racela in an informal capacity.
“He has attended our two practices and he gave inputs, which will be valuable for our SEABA Youth campaign,” Racela told InterAKTV in a telephone interview.
The two coaches are part of the Petron Blaze Boosters coaching staff, and Racela said Toroman’s help has been invaluable.
“Malaking bagay yung inputs niya. Sa Petron, nakakapagbigay siya ng suggestions. Mas malaki yung contribution niya sa amin dito sa youth team because he’s an Olympian and he has wide experience coach in international basketball scene,” said Racela of Toroman, who led Iran’s national team to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Racela said Toroman has helped the youth team expand its playbook.
“He was able to give us two plays for zone defense and two plays for man-to-man,” said Racela. “Maganda yung plays dahil babagay yun dito sa team namin ngayon.”
The former PBA star said that Toroman’s tactics give the youth team a new look for its offensive attack. “It’s different from the one that we’re using na dribble-drive offense,” said Racela. Last year, he installed the dribble-drive offense for the team that placed fourth in the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship with the help of his brother, Talk ‘N Text assistant coach Nash Racela. Curiously, Nash is a disciple of Tropang Texters’ coach Chot Reyes, who replaced Toroman at the helm of SMART-Gilas.
Toroman’s contributions to the national youth program go way back. Racela’s youth team predecessor, Eric Altamirano, said that the Serbian coach was also helpful to him during his stint at the helm of the squad.
“During my time as coach of the youth team, Coach Rajko was able to give me inputs,” said Altamirano. “It’s valuable to our campaign. He knows the international system that’s why it’s so important to us.”
Toroman, however, downplayed his contributions to the team/
“It’s no big deal. I only visited there just to give pointers. International basketball is different from the PBA style of play, so I just shared some of the things which I did when I was coach of Iran and the SMART-Gilas team,” said Toroman.
The SEABA Under-18 tournament will begin on June 26-30 in Singapore. The Philippines is the winningest team in the event, having won five times since the youth cagefest was instituted in 1998.
Pinoy coach to handle Indonesia
Meanwhile, Racela won’t be the only Filipino coach on the sidelines during the youth competition.
Former PBA coach Nat Canson, who has spent more than 20 years coaching in Indonesia, will call the shots for the Indonesian youth squad.
Canson himself confirmed the news in an appearance at the PSA Forum this week. He was a former coach of Alaska Milk and was last seen with the Sta. Lucia Realtors in the PBA. He was also coach of Red Bull in the PBL. He has had coaching stints in Indonesia since 1988, when he was recommended by his former player Bong Ramos, now an assistant with Barako Bull, for a post.
“We’re competing in the SEABA Youth, which is why we’re here in the country to face several collegiate squads for tuneup games,” said Canson.
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