Tim Cone coaching tree: Former players turned peers
MANILA, Philippines – From mentee to peer.
That is the transformation Jeff Cariaso, Aris Dimaunahan, and Johnedel Cardel all underwent as they found themselves coaching in the PBA against their former mentor, the legendary Tim Cone.
"I never came across [the thought] that there would be one day that I'd be going up against him, coaching-wise," Cariaso, the head coach of the Alaska Aces, told Rappler in a phone interview.
Cariaso and Cone go decades back.
The 1995 Rookie of the Year played a key role for Cone when Alaska won a rare Grand Slam in 1996 and they captured a total of 6 PBA championships together before Cariaso retired in 2010.
Apparently, it was Cone who paved the way to coaching for Cariaso as he tapped his former player to be his deputy when he was given the coaching reins for the B-Meg Llamados the following year.
In 2014, Cariaso took on the role of head coach for Barangay Ginebra, the team Cone now coaches and steered to 4 PBA crowns.
"As a coach, I find myself repeating a lot of what he used to tell me," Cariaso said of the 62-year-old tactician.
"That's how you know that not only was he my favorite and most successful coach, he was one that kind of instilled in me a lot of the values that I carry now as a coach."
"Playing for him was really remarkable because he doesn't only help you become the best basketball player that you can be, he also teaches a lot from his heart and your character grows and develops as well."
Although his PBA career was short-lived, Columbian Dyip head coach Cardel won a title as a player, and it happened under the tutelage of Cone.
Drafted by Alaska in 1993 alongside Aces legend Johnny Abarrientos and current team governor Dickie Bachmann, Cardel was part of the Cone-led crew that triumphed in the 1994 Governors' Cup.
It was just the second PBA title for Cone, who went on to bag a record 22 championships – including two Grand Slams – over 30 seasons.
Cardel said a keen attention to detail was one of the major reasons Cone emerged as the winningest coach in PBA history.
"He's very [much a] perfectionist. You have to do all his drills correctly." Cardel said in a mix of Filipino and English. "He's very strict when it comes to conditioning."
"When he's interested in a player and he sees something in a player, he will really guide you."
Learning from the maestro
Dimaunahan, who served as head coach for the Blackwater Elite for two conferences last season, enjoyed the opportunity of playing under the decorated coach before his PBA career ended.
He was picked up by Alaska in the 2011 Governors' Cup and Dimaunahan said he also joined Cone at B-Meg.
"I can never forget when we practiced and he said we should be playing determined rather than playing desperate basketball," Dimaunahan said.
"Even if you're up by 20, when the opponent is up by 20, or when the score is tied, you have to be disciplined in following the system for you to be successful."
Dimaunahan showed his composure in calling the shots when Blackwater hacked out a one-point overtime win over Cone and Ginebra, a victory that boosted his confidence in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup.
Blackwater advanced to the playoffs in that conference as a No. 3 seed and fell just a triple away from reaching the semifinals for the first time in franchise history.
"I'm happy because before, I was playing for him and now, I had a chance to go up against my idol coach," Dimaunahan said.
Cariaso learned the hard way what discipline meant to Cone.
Shootarounds in the morning before a PBA game became a tradition for Cone and he expected his players to show up.
Cariaso, unfortunately, woke up late one time and was not able to attend.
"He sat me down and he talked to me and he said, 'You know Jeff, you have to learn that when the team has either a practice or an activity, being together is important. In tonight's game, you will not be playing,'" Cariaso narrated.
"At that point, I was already geared up, I had a uniform on. [He said], 'I'd like you to change clothes and go back to the clothes you wore coming here, and tonight, I want you to be our best cheerleader.'"
"He actually did not allow me to play that game because I missed the shootaround in the morning and you can rest assure that I never missed a shootaround after that."
Cariaso said he applies the lessons he picked up from Cone to his team.
"Discipline is used commonly around Alaska – it's a word that we live by and it's something that we make sure that everyone abides and follows," Cariaso said.
"We feel like once you instill discipline in all aspects, on and off the court, how you approach practices and games, how you prepare yourself, then we can get the maximum effort from players."
Cardel, meanwhile, tries to emulate how Cone prepares and thinks as he seeks to make the playoffs with Columbian for the first time.
"Every time I go up against him, I always wish I have the luck to beat him," Cardel said. – Rappler.com