Honored and proud
“I know that as well—or better than anybody,” he told reporters on Sunday night.
Perhaps that’s also why it wasn’t that much of a chore for Cone to accept the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) offer to take charge of the country’s Southeast Asian Games bid slated here later this year.
“I would know—I’ve been there, done that. Or should I say, I’ve been there and didn’t do that,” Cone coyly told reporters on the eve of the announcement, where he all but confirmed the move.
On Monday afternoon, the SBP announced that the multi-titled mentor had accepted the job—a first in his 30-year career—to coach in the biennial meet where the opposition is obviously a lot inferior compared to the last time he coached a Philippine Five.
“Even though my appointment is just a stopgap measure and a short-term commitment, I am incredibly honored and proud to be selected,” Cone said in a text message. “I am very happy to help in any way.”
Cone said that he would be convening with the SBP over the coming days for the team’s “plan of attack.”
Cone already has a championship with a Philippine team, an all-pro squad in 1998 which he led to the Jones Cup title in Taipei. That squad, also known as the Centennial Team, eventually finished third in the Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand, that year.
“We’re hoping by the end of the week we’ll have a pool of players working together at full force,” said Cone, the PBA’s winningest coach and the only one ever to complete two Grand Slams.
Al Panlilio, the president of the SBP who personally offered Cone the job on Saturday, said the move to put Cone on board speaks highly of how the cage body wanted to pick up the pieces following a disastrous bid in the Fiba World Cup in China just two weeks ago.
“Other countries like Indonesia are already putting in the work,” Panlilio said.
“We also want to reiterate that we’re taking it one step at a time and this arrangement is for the SEA Games only, for now.”
Cone’s chance to win another gold medal comes 21 years after the Centennial Team, a squad which he was so proud of.
In his final post-game interview in that campaign, Cone, teary-eyed, told Filipino reporters that he would love to have “another shot.”
This is his chance.
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