Philippine basketball

Tim Cone philosophy on assembling PH teams unchanged: Get the best players

Delfin Dioquino

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Tim Cone philosophy on assembling PH teams unchanged: Get the best players

MASTERMIND. Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone reacts during a game in the 19th Asian Games.

Marko Djurica/REUTERS

Tim Cone weighs in on Gilas Pilipinas' future after admitting he has been in talks with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to coach the squad

MANILA, Philippines – If Gilas Pilipinas intends to compete with the rest of the world, it needs the best players in the country to suit up.

That is the way Tim Cone sees it as he weighed in on the future of the national team after admitting he has been in talks with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to coach the squad.

Cone called the shots for one of the most stacked Philippine crews in history when he guided the 1998 Centennial Team that featured the likes of Alvin Patrimonio, Allan Caidic, and Johnny Abarrientos to an Asian Games bronze.

Nearly three decades later, his philosophy of putting together a national team remains unchanged.

“I’ve always firmly believed from back in 1998 when I coached there that you got to go out and get the best players in the country to represent you if you want to have a chance against the Europeans and the Americas or even teams like China, Lebanon, Iran, Australia,” said Cone.

“You can’t go with lesser teams and expect to beat those guys. Can you? Is that a fair expectation? Is that a reasonable expectation? You bring your 12 best players, that’s a reasonable expectation.”

Cone, though, knows it is easier said than done.

After all, national team players are scattered all over Asia, with a bunch of them signed to clubs in the Japan B. League and Korean Basketball League.

Others are still in college like reigning UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao.

“You got to figure out a way to get the stakeholders to allow you to get the best players in the country, including the PBA, Japan, and Korea, and allow them to give you the time to work with these guys,” said the 66-year-old mentor.

“It’s not a simple thing.”

Cone said the SBP can also go a different route by assembling a squad of young players and allowing them to develop as a team for years.

But that option comes with considerable challenges.

“Two things with that in my mind, you’re not sending your best players, because they won’t be your best players. Number two, can you keep young guys together for a long time?” said Cone.

“We’ve proven over and over again that young guys want to grow and do other things. It’s hard to keep a team together for four, five years to get them to reach their full potential.”

Although he has his own way of thinking, Cone left it to the SBP to decide which path the national team will take.

“They are the ones making the decisions, not me.”

Cone, who holds a record 25 PBA championships, became a frontrunner for the coaching post after steering the Philippines last year to its first title in Asian Games basketball since 1962.

With him at the helm, the Philippines dethroned China with a miraculous win in the semifinals and overcame erstwhile unbeaten Jordan in the championship game in the continental games in Hangzhou, China. 

Gilas Pilipinas returns to action next month for the opening window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, where the Nationals will face Hong Kong in an away game on February 22 and will host Chinese Taipei on February 25. –

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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.