‘We need to keep pushing’: Cone hopes to build on gains from Gilas’ FIBA OQT run

Delfin Dioquino

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‘We need to keep pushing’: Cone hopes to build on gains from Gilas’ FIBA OQT run

TEAM. Gilas Pilipinas players gather after its semifinal loss to Brazil in the 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.


Head coach Tim Cone says Gilas Pilipinas' campaign in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament is a 'growth experience' for the team

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone has been adamant that almost is not enough.

Cone wants his players to embrace that same approach, as he hopes to build on the gains the Philippines made from its historic campaign in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia.

Showing it can go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys, the Philippines reached the semifinals before ultimately bowing out of the race for a prized Paris Olympics berth after a 71-60 loss to Brazil on Saturday, July 6.

“It’s an incredible disappointment for us and we’re not going to jump up and down and say, ‘Yay, we did our thing and everybody was proud of us.’ Hopefully, that doesn’t get into our mindset,” said Cone.

“We need to keep pushing and moving forward, getting better.”

Gilas enjoyed a sterling start to the tournament as it pulled off a colossal 89-80 upset of host Latvia, which currently ranks sixth in the world and finished fifth in the previous FIBA World Cup.

It marked the first time the Philippines beat a European team in 64 years, or since its 84-82 escape against Spain in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

The Philippines then fought back from a 20-point deficit against world No. 23 Georgia and deliberately lost by a single possession, 96-94, to secure its place in the semifinals.

The chances of reaching the final looked promising for the Philippines after a 22-12 first quarter against 12th-ranked Brazil before the highly physical South American squad flipped the script.

For Cone, while there were plenty of positive takeaways from the Philippines’ run in the OQT, the reality is the team still has a long way to go.

“It’s a growth experience for us. It’s kind of like a ‘now we know’ moment. Now we know we can compete, so how can we get that next step in which we can get a little bit better than not just compete but win?” said Cone.

Cone said the continuity of the national team program will be crucial as the Philippines shoots for the 2027 World Cup in Doha, Qatar, and the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, United States.

“The whole part of bringing this particular program together … is the fact that we’re going to, hopefully, keep these guys together over the next three to four years, trying to keep them together going into the next World Cup,” he said.

Gilas returns to action in November for the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, where it will face New Zealand and Hong Kong. –

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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.