MANILA, Philippines — Former Gilas Pilipinas coach Rajko Toroman felt disappointed upon learning that the Philippines lost to China in its bid to host the 2019 Fiba World Cup during the final presentation on Friday in Tokyo, Japan.
The Serbian coach, currently the head coach of the Jordan national side, said the Philippines is ripe to host a huge sports spectacle like the Fiba World Cup, considering the re-emergence of the country in the basketball scene in the last five years.
“I heard that China won a bid for the World championship. It is a pity but the Philippines has everything (it needed) to organize this event and the infrastructure,” the 60-year-old Toroman said, when reached by Philstar.com on Saturday.
Credited for developing the likes of current PBA stars like Mark Barroca, Chris Tiu, Mac Baracael, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and Dylan Ababou to name a few during his three-year coaching stint with the original Smart Gilas squad, Toroman believes the Philippines is fast gaining its once lofty billing in the Asian region with the help of the pro league.
“In the last five years, the Philippines has improved strongly,” noted the veteran international coach, who guided the Smart Gilas team to a fourth place finish in the 2011 Fiba-Asia men’s championships.
“The level of the PBA (backed) Gilas (has grown) and they (pro players) are supposed to be the last piece in developing the Philippines into a powerful basketball country,” he added.
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Since his last PBA coaching stint with Barako Bull in 2013, Toroman joined Jordan last year and is looking forward to leading the former Arab powerhouse squad back to the upper basketball echelon in Asia.
However, Toroman said Jordan won’t be participating in the William Jones Cup scheduled from Aug. 29 to Sept. 6 due to financial issues.
“We are not doing well. We cancelled our trip to join the Jones Cup because of money issue,” a candid Toroman said.
Nonetheless, the Jordanians will still be preparing hard for the Fiba-Asia men’s championships set to start on Sept. 23 in Changsa, Hunan, China.
Jordan will play in Group C, along with host China, 2014 Asian Games champion South Korea and Singapore.