Cone honored to coach Castro 11 years after nearly drafting him in PBA

MANILA, Philippines – In 2008, Tim Cone missed a chance to draft Jayson Castro in the PBA. Eleven years after, in the grandest sporting stage in the region, he will finally be able to coach the player he said is the best point guard in the continent. 

Castro will play under the guidance of Cone for the first time as Gilas Pilipinas shoots for an 18th Southeast Asian Games gold on home turf later this year. 

"I'm excited about coaching him. I've never had a chance to coach him. I almost drafted him back in 2008 but Chot Reyes got him, he jumped ahead of us, and traded for him," Cone revealed of Castro. 

Cone and Alaska were in good position to nab Castro in 2008 with the No. 5 pick, but Reyes and Talk 'N Text swept in with No. 3 pick it traded with San Miguel in exchange for Jay Washington on draft day. 

Instead, Alaska went with Sol Mercado.

"We thought we're going to get him in No. 5 but he ended up going No. 3. Curse Chot Reyes," Cone said with a hearty laugh after the Nationals wrapped up its first practice on Monday, September 30.

Castro looked to have closed the curtain on his decorated international basketball career when he begged off to play in the FIBA World Cup, which is why it came as a surprise when Cone named him in the 15-man SEA Games pool. 

But Cone said Castro simply "loves playing with the national team." 

"I think he felt that the young guns needed to come in and start taking his place and I think it was kind of realization for him watching how much he was missed in that lineup and the leadership," Cone said. 

"He's still Asia's best guard."

"When he was approached again to come in and join us, I think that he's willing to do it. He knows he can contribute and he can be a great help and he can lead this team," he added.

Cone said he is honored to have Castro under his tutelage. 

"[A]fter all these years, maybe we can do something together. Just honored that he's here. I'm honored that he accepted the challenge. He's a special player," he said. –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.