Coach Tim Cone made it clear that he won’t be leaving anything to chance once the Southeast Asian Games comes around.
“This is something we don’t want to lose,” he told reporters on Thursday after naming a 15-man pool of professional stars together with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the PBA at the league’s offices in Libis.
“This is our home territory. We’re hosting. We’re going to go hard and figure out the best way to do this—and do it well,” he added.
If anything, his intentions are clearly projected for the regional tournament, one that takes a page off the national quintet that competed in the Hiroshima, Japan, Asian Games in 1994.
Cone’s selection will be bannered by six players from his PBA team, Barangay Ginebra, led by many-time Gilas guard LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar and newcomer Art dela Cruz.
“We decided to go with a veteran group, again because—and it’s not always the truth—veterans are easier to coach, short term,” Cone said.
“They pick up things faster than young guys,” he added. “This is all about speed and efficiency that we’re trying to do.”
Jayson Castro leads the handpicked bunch. Joining the World Cup veteran are Gilas’ old reliables: RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger, Chris Ross, June Mar Fajardo and Matthew Wright.
Vic Manuel, who is the lone national team first-timer, rounds out the list. He is Cone’s personal choice in a pool that originally had 50 names—amateurs included.
“Basically, [the Ginebra players] will help me coach the other guys,” Cone said.
“Like we did back in ’94. Norman Black brought the San Miguel team and reinforced it with Johnny Abarrientos, Alvin Patrimonio and a few guys. That’s kind of the model we’re working on,” Cone said.
The Philippines will be trying to win the SEA Games cage gold for the fourth straight time, and 18th out of 20 overall. It is usually the gold that glitters the brightest for the Filipinos.
“Those are the 15 we’ll work with in terms of practice,” he said of his crack crew of stars who will start training at Meralco Gym on Monday next week.
“I know there’s always gonna be questions of ‘Why wasn’t this guy picked?’ and I can’t go through every reason. It’s just about finding the balance in terms of position and trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together,” Cone said.
Notably left out were CJ Perez and Robert Bolick, the brightest performers for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup in China just over two weeks ago.
“It would be nice to bring all 24 guys in and have them try out and compete but we just don’t have the time.”
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