Moro Branislav is set to step down as head coach of Foton when his contract expires at the end of the year.
Foton team manager Diane Santiago admitted that the prolific Serbian mentor already expressed his interest to walk away from the Tornadoes, sparking speculations that he will join another club when the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix fires off on Feb. 17.
Santiago, the sister of Foton stars Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat, said Branislav formally bid goodbye during their Christmas party last Dec. 18.
Branislav reportedly thanked the Tornadoes for the opportunity, saying that: I will still see you next year – but I will be at the end of the court.
The following day, he left for a one-week vacation in Siargao.
“We tried our best to keep him, but I think there is a much better offer for him.”
“It’s really sad to lose a very good coach like him. I’m sure the next club he will handle will be very competitive. We thank coach Moro for his contributions to the club and we wish him well in his next endeavor.”
Sources have it that at least three Superliga teams are now talking to Branislav.
He, however, is already getting “very close” to striking a deal with a club that is dead serious to become a contender and give super teams like Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics a run for their money.
“I heard they’re already talking.”
“They are now very, very close to making a deal. We’ll know his new club in the next few days.”
In a telephone conversation, Branislav admitted that he is no longer inclined to renew his contract with the Tornadoes.
He said he weighed his options very carefully before arriving at the decision of exploring other opportunities.
“I left Foton because there are better offers for me.”
“As you see, I am a professional coach and I am ready to work with any team. Just like local volleyball players, I also want to experience other work environment and grow both as a coach and as a person as well.”
He added that he’s excited to work – and develop – a new set of players.
“Filipino players are very talented. I also want to work and develop other players aside from Foton players.”
Branislav is the second mentor to explore other opportunity.
Before Christmas, Jerry Yee walked away from Sta. Lucia Realty to become the head coach of a new team in Total in the Premier Volleyball League.
The Lady Realtors are set to name their new coach on Dec. 30.
Despite failing to win the title in the recent Grand Prix, it was still a mission accomplished for Branislav.
After leading PSL Manila to an impressive run in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, Branislav steered the Tornadoes to the title in his very first conference as head coach.
With that, players like Patty Orendain, Bia General, Rhea Dimaculangan and Angeli Araneta packed their bags for various teams, leaving Branislav with the core of Jaja Santiago, EJ Laure and Maika Ortiz to work on.
In an interview last year, Branislav admitted that he was surprised with the turn of events.
“I just found out (after I arrived from Serbia) that my team has been wiped out.”
But still, Branislav found a way to win.
The Tornadoes went on to capture the bronze medal in the Invitational Conference and the fourth place in the All-Filipino Conference despite a depleted lineup.
In the recent Grand Prix, Branislav recruited Serbians Sara Klisura and Katarina Vukamanovic as well as Montenegrin Dragana Perunicnic to make a serious run for the title.
They sliced through the tournament with a 7-1 win-loss mark and became the first squad to prevail over powerhouse F2 Logistics, a match that was made even more memorable by Klisura’s record-breaking 41-point explosion.
But winning the title wasn’t meant to be.
In a rematch of the explosive finals battle last year, the Tornadoes fell prey to Petron in the semifinals to be relegated to the battle for bronze medal.
They, however, salvaged some measure of pride when they dominated the Asset Managers in straight sets in the consolation match.