Cone eyes ‘D’ game vs Gilas PH
MANILA, Philippines — If Tim Cone can have his way, this year’s edition of the PBA All-Star Game pitting his PBA Selection against Gilas Pilipinas will be a defense-oriented ballgame.
“I hope we don’t get to 124 points (per team) this time around,” Cone said during the centerpiece game’s official launch Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. “It’s going to be a tough defensive battle.”
Cone will be taking that approach to be able to help the Nationals prepare—this early—for their battles in Spain in the World Cup and in the Asian Games in Inchon, South Korea, later this year.
“This is important: We’re here for them, the Gilas team,” Cone said. “We’re here to try to get them better, prepare them for their journey to Spain, which is going to be a thrill for all of us.”
The Nationals have gotten just four practices together and will surely come into the 8 p.m. game on Sunday without the fluidity that won them the silver medal in the Fiba-Asia Championship last Aug. 11.
Gilas also played against a PBA Selection in Digos, Davao Del Sur, last year and both settled for a 124-all tie after National Jeff Chan buried a trey with less than a second left in regulation.
But Cone believes that the Nationals will be better this year—lack of practice or otherwise.
“They are going to come in more prepared,” said the PBA grand slam-winning mentor. “We’ll be out there to compete and challenge them.”
Meanwhile, the All-Star festivities officially get going today at the MOA Arena with the Skills Challenge starting at 5:30 p.m.
Chris Tiu of Rain or Shine will defend his Three-Point Shootout crown, Jonas Villanueva of Air21 will be seeking to win the Obstacle Challenge for the second straight year and a wide-open race—and an entertaining one at that—will mark the Slam Dunk tilt with high-flyers Justin Melton of San Mig Coffee and Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra entered.
Melton, the 5-foot-10 rookie who can go as high as 11 feet, and Aguilar, who learned his tricks while playing for Western Kentucky University in the United States NCAA, are the early favorites together with defending champion Chris Ellis.
Aguilar did not join the contest last year because of his commitment to Gilas Pilipinas, which was going to play in an international tournament so close to the All-Star festivities.
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