Fiba Asia only a start, says Cone

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Former national coach Tim Cone likes what he sees in the Gilas Pilipinas program. And regardless of how the Fiba Asia championship turns out, he hopes that this will merely be the start of something big.

“Looking at what they did and with the time they had to do it, I don’t see any other way they could have prepared better than they have,” said Cone, the San Mig Coffee head coach in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Gilas Pilipinas will try to make it to the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Madrid, Spain, by nailing one of the top three slots in the Fiba Asia tournament that starts today. But Cone, who has been batting for a consistent program since 1998, when he coached the Asian Games squad in Bangkok, feels that the country needs to look long-term.

“Even if they don’t reach the top three this time, we now have a model. We just need to think what we need to tweak. We learn from failures. We should continue. This should not be the end,” he said. “At least I hope it’s not. I hope the powers-that-be will continue it and work to improve.”

For the program to continue successfully, though, it has to start at one place.

“The key is keeping the coaching staff intact,” said the Grand Slam mentor with Alaska in 1996.

“If you watch PBA teams from year to year, when they struggle, they change the coaching staff and there’s a new philosophy and everybody’s trying to figure out what to do,” Cone explained. “If year to year the coaching staff is intact, they change only a player here, you get to refine the puzzle.”

Cone said turnover would be inevitable for the Gilas program. He also cited the likes of Greg Slaughter and Kiefer Ravena, young amateurs who could change the face of the program.

“Keeping the coaching staff is really the key because they will continue to learn and use [one system],” he said.

“To me, this is just the beginning. Whether we go to the [World Cup] or not, this is just the start of the program.”

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