Moro Branislav is set to return for another tour of duty, making Foton a force to be reckoned with when the Philippine Superliga (PSL) resumes next year.
The 59-year old Serbian guru sat down with Foton Philippines president Rommel Sytin Wednesday and tackled the extension of his contract that is set to expire on Dec. 31.
Branislav is set to leave for Belgrade on Saturday, but will be back on January 15 to formally sign the contract as well as spearhead the opening of the Tornadoes’ training camp on January 16.
Details of his contract are not yet available as of press time, but Foton insiders claimed that both Branislav and Sytin were “on the same page” when they had their informal talks shortly before the Tornadoes had their Christmas party.
Aside from Foton, a club team in Turkey and the Malaysian national team are said to be interested in tapping the Eastern European drillmaster, who called the shots for PSL-F2 Logistics Manila in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship last October.
Aside from the PSL, Branislav would also get a taste of international coaching chore as the Tornadoes are set to compete in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Kazakhstan in April. There’s also a strong possibility that he would be tapped by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. to stand as consultant for the National Team in the AVC Asian Women’s Seniors Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
Branislav confirmed his possible signing to Volleyverse, saying that he would be back for “another 12 months of volleyball.
On the same page
Prior to his talks with the top Foton honcho, Branislav was sitting on pins and needles.
In the PSL Christmas party last Wednesday, he told a handful of reporters that he doesn’t know if he would still return to Manila as there was no formal discussion with Sytin, who was still in a business trip abroad at that time.
Although he likes to work here and eventually serve the National Team, the lack of formal offer was making it difficult for him to plot his next move.
The following day, Sytin reached out to him to discuss a possible extension. The source said the discussion was quite informal and both camps are still in the negotiation stage. But since they are “on the same page” the team expects them to reach an agreement any time soon.
The source said Branislav’s return would be a big boost to their campaign next year.
Branislav is a trailblazer for being the first foreign coach to call the shots in an official PSL match. And he lived above expectations.
Foton sliced through the import-flavored Grand Prix like a hot knife to a butter winning all – but one game – in the preliminaries.
Although the Tornadoes were nearly ambushed by lower-ranked RC Cola-Army in the semifinals, order was restored as Branislav instructed her team not to panic to conquer the last three sets and seal the heart-stopping victory. But the perfect example of Branislav’s display of coaching brilliance was in the finals.
Ranged against veteran internationalist Stephanie Niemer and the Petron Tri-Activ Spikers, Branislav reportedly instructed his wards to allow Niemer to hammer them from the attack zone, but make sure that the support crew of Serena Warner, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Ces Molina would not be allowed to do damage.
Niemer erupted for 32 points in Game 1 followed by another 31 points in Game 2. But the rest of her teammates were quiet, allowing the Tornadoes to easily clobber them the entire series.
The ploy almost didn’t work in Game 1 as the Tri-Activ Spikers went on to win the first two sets. But with Niemer huffing and puffing in the third set, the Tornadoes slowly made their move like a hungry wolf ready to pounce on a clueless hyena.
Aside from that, Branislav also has the habit of getting into the opposing team’s head to fire her up and destroy its focus, similar to what he did to Niemer prior to their best-of-three series.
And now that Branislav would be back for another tour of duty, fans, players and even his fellow coaches would again be treated to another 12 months of unorthodox – sometimes downright controversial – brand of volleyball.
So buckle up and enjoy the ride.