Cone to coach Gilas PH to SEA Games.
The veteran coach who was the top choice for the job finally accepted the offer yesterday.
Tim Cone, the PBA’s winningest mentor with 21 championships, will handle Gilas Pilipinas seeing action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, marking the second time in his glorious coaching career that he’ll call the shots for a national team.
“Even though my appointment is just a stop-gap measure and a short-term commitment, I am incredibly honored and proud to be selected to coach in the SEA Games,” said the two-time grand slam winner.
“Wow! I’m very happy to help in any way,” Cone added.
His appointment to the position was announced yesterday by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio in a statement sent to media.
“I spoke to Tim Cone last Saturday and he expressed interest but wanted to finish his game last night and talk to his family first,” Panlilio said in a statement.
“Now I’m very happy to announce that coach Tim has officially accepted the role as head coach for Gilas Pilipinas Men in the upcoming SEA Games,” he added.
The decision to look for a coach was made in the wake of Yeng Guiao’s resignation over the horrific campaign of Gilas in the just-concluded Fiba World Cup where it lost five games and won none.
Hours after Guiao announced his resignation, Cone easily emerged as the top favorite for the position in the team which is widely expected to run roughshod over the opposition come the SEA Games scheduled in the country from Nov.30 to Dec. 11.
Basketball observers said Cone will have an easy time leading the team to the crown since Gilas is a cut above the rest in this sport loved dearly by Filipinos.
A basketball follower named Daniel Aguila of Fairview even joked that Gilas will win the SEA Games championship even without a coach.
“Kahit utility man lang ng Gilas ang mag-coach, mananalo ang team. Mahina ang kalaban sa SEA Games. Everyone knows that,” said Aguila, laughing.
Cone served as national coach back in 1998 when a Centennial Team of PBA stars led by Alvin Patrimonio, Johnny Abarrientos, Vergel Meneses, Marlou Aquino and Allan Caidic finished third in the Asian Games in Bangkok.
The longtime Philippine resident has made no effort to hide his desire to get a shot at redemption since that Asiad experience.
The SBP made it clear that the arrangement is only for the SEA Games.
“We’re still putting together a plan on how to move forward with our preparations for 2023 and beyond,” Panlilio said.
The composition of the team and Cone’s coaching staff will be announced in a few days.
“We should keep moving forward with the Gilas program. We should keep improving even it it’s just incrementally,” said SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan.
“Basketball is the Filipino people’s favorite sport so we can’t turn our back on it,” added Pangilinan.