New Ginebra coach Cone says team ‘unbalanced at this point’

MANILA, Philippines – 18-time PBA Champion head coach Tim Cone has been officially introduced as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s new head coach for fewer than 24 hours, but he already has an idea of the kind of roster he wants to have. 

Although he didn’t reveal any names that he specifically wants in or out of the team, Cone said during his introductory press conference as Ginebra’s new coach on Thursday, July 23, at the San Miguel Corporation headquarters that the current line-up of the squad is “unbalanced.”

“I find Ginebra to have a really strong line-up but I find it unbalanced at this point,” Cone, 57, told the press. “It’s not a balanced line-up, and I think that’s something we’re going to have to work with.”

Cone, who’s led Alaska and Purefoods to Grand Slams in 1996 and 2014, respectively, pointed out that Ginebra has too many guards and not enough wings.  

The team currently has LA Tenorio, JJ Helterbrand, Josh Urbiztondo, Sol Mercado, and Emman Monfort in their point guard rotation. Mark Caguioa, Chris Ellis, and Mac Bacarael are the only natural shooting guards and small forwards. 

“It’s not going to take a lot of changes, but I think overtime. Again, it’s not going to happen right away,” said Cone, who will be coaching his third PBA franchise in his storied career. 

“It could be one conference, two conferences, it could be a year from now. In my mind, there’s going to have to be a better balance in the line-up, and that’s not easy to do.” 

Cone also pointed out that one of his goals is to maximize the talents of Ginebra’s two main bigs: Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar.

Although the popular PBA franchise has been known for utilizing a run-and-gun system over the past few years - save for the two conferences Jeff Cariaso ran the Triangle Offense - Ginebra will now return to the Triangle under Cone, who has made a successful coaching career using the system. 

“I’ve always been a big man’s coach… I’ve always enjoyed coaching big men. So, having Greg and Japeth there is very, very exciting,” said Cone. 

“There’s a great opportunity to get with them and try to help them grow. The Triangle System is inside to out, so you look inside before you play out, and that’s going to go to the strengths of Japeth and Greg.”

But Cone did make sure to note that Ginebra’s perimeter players will still get a share of the ball, saying, “you can’t dismiss the LAs, the Mark Caguioas and the guys like that. They are going to get theirs too. The whole idea is it’s an equal opportunity offense.” 

However, the 3-time PBA Coach of the Year noted that what will be most important is the defense Ginebra will play, seeing as he still believes in one of the oldest sayings in basketball: “Defense wins championships.” 

“To me, where I really feel like I can bring a lot to the team, is to get a buy-in defensively. To get the guys buy-in defensively. The Marks, the Gregs, the Japeths, the LAs, then we’re going to do something good and we’re going to do something quickly,” said Cone.

“Greg and Japeth, they’re going to get their numbers. Mark, LA, Ellis, Bacarael, they’re all going to get their numbers, but the question’s going to be for them: Are they going to buy in on the defensive side? I’m still a big believer that defense wins championships.” 

– Rappler.com