Big J’s No. 7; Rajko’s tough drillsBy Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ON OCCASIONS when I bump into the country’s most popular cager, the Living Legend Sonny Jaworski, he always jokes about making a comeback in the PBA. Not as a coach but as a player.
Or maybe both, since he was a playing coach when he left the PBA scene close to the turn of the century. Even if he is now well into his senior years.
“I’m not yet officially retired so I can still play if there’s a team that will hire me,” the Big J would say, a big smile plastered on his face.
It took almost 15 years but at last the famous No. 7 jersey the Big J used to wear in his decades of active playing will be officially retired at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on May 27 Sunday before the Ginebra-B-Meg game.
AKTV’s Paul Mata said there will be a short tribute for the Living Legend, who, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III, last played in Game 6 of the All-Filipino Cup against Purefoods on May 25, 1997.
On May 30, 2003, Jaworski played in a Toyota-Crispa exhibition match where he sank a three-point shot from an assist by Mon Fernandez to win the game.
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Rhea Navarro was quick to come to the defense of Serbian basketball coach Rajko Toroman, recently appointed San Miguel Corp. sports consultant.
Rhea works as liaison officer of the Qatar Basketball Federation and is currently based in Doha.
Here in Manila to attend the funeral of a close family friend, I was telling my longtime pal of criticisms that I’ve heard about the unreasonably grueling training program implemented by the former Philippine team coach.
Players have complained that he makes them do too many rounds of running to the point that their tongues virtually hang out in exhaustion and there is practically no energy left for them for the equally rigorous drills that follow.
“Patayan talaga,” remarked one cager.
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According to Rhea, the Toroman program is patterned after the rigid Serbian formula designed to fully condition the player and increase his stamina.
“Ultimately the hard work will pay off,” she said.
I took this to mean that if the Petron cagers, or Bobby Parks’ ABL crew strictly adhere to the Toroman program, they would ultimately end up as strong as Superman and as lithe as Spiderman—or something close to their mythical super powers.
However, from what I overheard just the other night, this is not likely to happen. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but the conversation between two PBA coaches and a colleague was within earshot, it was impossible for the talk to escape my ears.
I heard one of the coaches say that based on the latest feedback, the players have started to rebel and as a consequence are refusing to closely adhere to the orders of the Serbian coach. No more 20 rounds of running for them.
Incidentally, there is another foreign basketball coach that has been the object of complaint of his players.
This head coach may not last long in his current post, according to one of his players, since he has this foul habit of blaming others, most often his players, when something goes wrong.
“He points a finger at us, or whoever he perceives to have committed the error, right in front of the whole team, not bothering to spare us the embarrassment,” said the player.
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During his recent fight with Omar Niño Romero here in Manila, WBO flyweight champion Brian Viloria admitted there had been moments when he lost focus on the task at hand.
“I was distracted time and again by Romero’s mouthpiece which had something written on it. It looked like the name of a girl,” Brian said.
Good thing his curiosity didn’t get the better of him or he would have gotten closer to the face of Romero to get a better look.
Hard to tell what could have happened.
“I think the name written on the mouthpiece was Josephine—or it could have been Jasmine, something like that.
“Definitely it starts with a J. Could have been the name of his dentist,” Brian said.
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