MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone lauded another perfect Gilas Pilipinas attendance as they continue to buildup for the Southeast Asian Games, saying he is "real proud" of the players for their commitment.
All 15 members of the pool were present for the third straight week on Monday, October 21, as the biennial meet that the country will host later this year nears.
The only time the pool was not complete was their first meeting with June Mar Fajardo bothered by an ankle injury, but since then, Cone had everyone from his wish list at his disposal for training.
"It's exciting because it seems like everybody's buying in," Cone said. "I told the players I came here thinking 2 or 3 guys wouldn't show up because that's just kind of like what the national team goes through."
"But we had all 15 guys today and we want them to keep coming. We're real proud of all these guys for still showing up."
Cone had a reason for having an inkling he will miss a couple of players, after all, 9 saw action in their respective PBA games a day before.
Last week, it was the same scenario, with 11 players fresh from their PBA matches and Christian Standhardinger getting traded just hours before training.
Admittedly, Cone wondered if Standhardinger would appear for practice, given he could have used the shock news as an excuse for his absence.
Still, Standhardinger and the rest followed through, and Cone could not have been more pleased. (READ: Standhardinger still shows up for Gilas Pilipinas practice despite trade)
"You're not playing for yourself when you're playing for the national team, that's why truly as an athlete, it's the greatest honor you can have. It's just playing for more than just for yourself," said Cone.
"It's easy to go out there and say, 'I'm going to play for my bonus, I'm going to play for my salary.' But when you start playing for your family, when you start playing for your teammates, that makes it different. It motivates you even more."
"They're showing up and I'm really proud of them showing up. I'm very honored that they keep coming here."
With the players showing dedication, Cone said he and his coaching staff are trying to make the most of their precious time by focusing on what is important, particularly defense.
"I'm not concerned about their offense. We're going to give them something simple and try to use their skills. They can kind of experiment with and discover how they can use it. It would really be on them," he said.
"Defensively is where I, as a coach, can really help them get on the same page and do something a little different."
The SEA Games kicks off on November 30 as Gilas Pilipinas shoots for a 13th straight gold medal and 18th overall. – Rappler.com
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.