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Toroman: Whoever is left

RAJKO Toroman

2013-14 PBA DRAFT

Manila, Philippines – With three picks in the first round of the PBA Rookie Draft, Barako Bull consultant Rajko Toroman said yesterday that the Energy Cola will be targeting the best available talent, regardless of position, for the team in the forthcoming 39th season.

Barako Bull owns the 4th, 5th and 6th picks in the first round of the draft scheduled on Nov. 3 at Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.

The Energy Cola have invited several aspiring rookies the past couple of days in their practice sessions.

“We have seen some of the rookies; we have a good bunch of players in the draft this year,” said Toroman, who joined Barako Bull as consultant in the last two conferences after his stint with Petron Blaze, serving in the same capacity during the Philippine Cup.

Invited by Barako Bull for tryouts were Far Eastern University’s Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, University of Santo Tomas’ Jeric Teng and Jeric Fortuna, Ateneo’s Nico Salva and Justin Chua, his former Smart Gilas Pilipinas player JR Cawaling, and Arellano University’s James Forrester.

Toroman said they are looking at these players since he expects the ‘Big 3’ – 7-footer Greg Slaughter, 6-foot-7 Ian Sangalang and 6-foot-7 Raymond Almazan – to be gone by the time their turn to select comes.

Barangay Ginebra, which owns the No. 1 overall pick, is said to be eyeing either Slaughter or Sangalang, while San Mig Coffee – picking second – is expected to tab whoever the Kings will be dropping.

Rain or Shine is expected to exercise its No. 3 pick with Almazan, whose Letran coach – Caloy Garcia – is an assistant with the Elasto Painters.

“We don’t have a decision yet, maybe a day before the Draft. But definitely we’ll get the best available talent,” said Toroman. “A lot of them can really be an option for us. At least 10 to 12 players are strongly considered first round picks.”

Asked what Barako Bull needs to strengthen its positions, Toroman said they hope to solidify their frontline by taking a center, a wingman to add scoring threat, and a point guard to stabilize their backcourt rotation.

At the moment, the only legitimate centers of Barako Bull are veterans Mick Pennisi and Enrico Villanueva, who played sparingly last conference after eight months of rehabilitation following an ACL injury. Point guards Jonas Villanueva and Eman Monfort are also coming off injuries, while they only have JC Intal at the small forward spot.

Aside from the three picks they have in the first round, Toroman said Barako Bull also has two in the second.

He said that they will use all the picks, which will give them about 20 players on their roster, but will trim them a week before the Nov. 17 opening of the Philippine Cup.

Even with a depleted unit, Barako Bull was able to advance to the quarterfinal playoffs of the PBA Governors’ Cup but was eliminated by Meralco.

In the coming All-Filipino conference, Toroman said their target is to make it to the semifinals.

“The team is picking up the system. After we made the playoffs, I believe this team is going up. We’ll continue to grow up as a team. We know it will be difficult as other teams will also get stronger, but our goal is to make the semis,” said Toroman.