Barako girds for Governors Cup
MANILA, Philippines - Forced to an early vacation in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Barako Bull is looking forward to a strong comeback in the Governors Cup and coach Rajko Toroman confirmed yesterday the Energy Cola is competing in an eight-team tournament in Dubai on May 17-24 to prepare for the third conference.
Barako got off to a 3-1 start in the Commissioner’s Cup then sputtered in losing six in a row before finishing with a 5-9 record for ninth place. Toroman had no excuses for the slip but rued the close losses to Alaska by four and Talk ‘N’ Text by three. He said there are positives to build on for the future.
“We’ll resume practice May 2 to train for Dubai,” said Toroman. “We’ve signed up Othyus Jeffers as our import for the Governors Cup and we’ll bring him with us to Dubai. He’s arriving in Manila to join us for practice May 8. Our goal won’t be to win the tournament but to gain experience as a team and test guys like (Keith) Jensen, (Dave) Marcelo, Eman (Monfort), J. C. (Intal), Shawn (Weinstein), Sean (Anthony), Doug (Kramer) and Allein (Maliksi). We’re excited about Jensen whom we’ll try at the four position. Enrico (Villanueva) won’t be able to play in Dubai but may be ready for the Governors Cup in August.”
Toroman said trading Josh Urbiztondo to Ginebra San Miguel for Jensen and a draft pick was a calculated gamble. “We’ll miss Josh’s killer instinct and energy but there were games where he seemed to lack focus, where he looked more to score from the three-point area than to make plays for others,” he said. “I think it was a good career move for Josh and I wish him the best. Besides, we needed to upgrade our four spot and we know Jensen was a big rebounder in the D-League so we went with the trade.”
Since trading for Jensen, Toroman said he has received an offer to swap him but declined it. There was also an offer for a trade involving a point guard from another team. Toroman said he’s staying put at the moment. “We’re happy with Allein’s development,” said the Serbian coach referring to Maliksi who averaged 16.8 points in his last six games. “Danny (Seigle) is still incredible on offense. Throughout the conference, he practiced hard and that’s why he played well. He will spend some time with family in Hawaii and catch up with us in Dubai. Jonas (Villanueva) was injured and didn’t play the last three games but he’s one of the most skilled point guards in the league. We’re hoping he’ll be healthy the rest of the season. Eman plays with a lot of heart and is very unselfish. We like his attitude. We’ll continue to play Sean at four even if he’s an undersized power forward. He hustles and works hard. We’ll test Shawn who’s a tough defender with experience in the Israeli league. Mick (Pennisi) remains deadly with his three-point shot and works well in our system.”