Philippine basketball

Man for the job: SBP chief says ‘no other choice’ but Tim Cone

Delfin Dioquino

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Man for the job: SBP chief says ‘no other choice’ but Tim Cone

SHOT-CALLER. Head coach Tim Cone in action for Gilas Pilipinas in the 19th Asian Games.

PSC-POC Media Pool

It took a little bit of convincing, but Tim Cone eventually accepted the offer to permanently coach Gilas Pilipinas for the next FIBA cycle

MANILA, Philippines – Handing Tim Cone Gilas Pilipinas’ coaching reins felt like a no-brainer for Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio.

Cone was the first, and apparently, only choice of the SBP to permanently coach the national team for the next FIBA cycle after he guided the Philippines to its first Asian Games men’s basketball crown since 1962.

“Hands down for me, Tim has proven himself many times over,” said Panlilio in a press conference organized by the SBP on Monday, February 19.

“To me, there was no other choice except to really offer it to Tim. If Tim said no, then that was the time I would start looking for other coaches.”

Cone boasts of an impressive win rate every time he called the shots for the national team.

He steered the Philippine Centennial Team to a bronze finish in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand, and led Gilas to a golden romp in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games hosted by the country.

Last October, Cone also pushed the right button as the Nationals ruled the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, even though he was just asked to temporarily take over following Chot Reyes’ exit at the end of the 2023 FIBA World Cup,

On top of those accolades, Cone is also the winningest coach in PBA history with 25 championships.

Panlilio admitted it took a little bit of convincing for Cone to accept the job as the 66-year-old mentor laid out his grand plan for the national team, which includes keeping a 12-man core intact over the next four years.

For Cone, the continuity of the Gilas program is crucial as they seek to end a decades-long absence in the Olympics and make a bigger splash in the next World Cup.

“I sort of agreed with a lot of the things that Tim said and the targets that we want to put forward. We were aligned from Day 1 in terms of the vision,” said Panlilio.

“Took a bit of time for me to convince him to say yes, but we were sort of aligned. We wanted to improve the standings of the Philippines. Once you perform internationally, the rankings follow.”

Panlilio said there were considerations of tapping a foreign coach, although the idea seemed impractical given the schedule of tournaments.

This year, the national team will play in only three events: the February and November windows of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July.

“You’re hiring a foreign coach but you only need him, as Tim said, maybe 40 days of the year. What does he do for the rest of the year?” said Panlilio.

With Cone at the helm, the SBP also has its sights set on making Gilas a top 20 team in the world.

“I think I told Tim, ‘Why can’t we be in the top 20 at some point?’ I know it’s a hard task because you’re playing against a lot of the European countries at the same time,” said Panlilio.

“We want to be better. We want to improve every year.” –

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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.