Another spoiler role for Cone?
From Grand Slam nemesis of San Miguel Beer to spoiler of another record bid by the Beermen in the Philippine Basketball Association.
That’s the passion now burning in coach Tim Cone’s mind in the wake of Barangay Ginebra’s recent masterful conquest of Meralco for the third time in four title meetings for the Governors’ Cup. With two reliable recruits in Stanley Pringle and the now-healthy Jared Dillinger, Cone had declared the Gin Kings ready to challenge the Beermen in their bid for a record sixth straight Philippine Cup, considered the crown jewel of the usual three-conference format of the pro league’s 45th season that starts on March 1.
Cone was the last coach to win what was then known as the All-Filipino Cup in 2014 with the San Mig Coffee team that went on to score a Grand Slam with its succeeding wins in the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup.The San Miguel Corp. franchise then tapped Cone to handle Ginebra in 2015 and, thanks mainly to import Justin Brownlee, the Gin Kings captured four of the last eight tournaments with foreign reinforcements.
The Beermen took over as Philippine Cup champion under coach Leo Austria in 2015 and have remained on top with title wins over sister teams Ginebra in 2017 and Magnolia in 2018 and last year.But Brownlee and Ginebra proved a big stumbling block for the Beermen when they twice came within a conference of a grand slam. The Gin Kings eliminated the Beermen in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Governors’ Cup and duplicated the feat in the same stage of the same tournament last year.The Beermen remain formidable with June Mar Fajardo, a cinch to grab a record sixth straight MVP Award during the Leo Awards preceding this year’s opening schedule, expected to again put up huge numbers as SMB’s tower of power.
How Cone deals with Fajardo using his two big men in Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter will be an interesting sidelight of this year’s battle along with June Mar’s expected confrontation with former teammate Christian Standhardinger, who has blossomed as a top center for NorthPort.
Meanwhile, we welcome the decision of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) to honor gymnast Caloy Yulo with the President’s Award during the annual SMC-PSA Annual Awards Night on March 6 at Manila Hotel.
Yulo is the undisputed star of Team Philippines that captured the PSA’s Athlete of the Year Award for regaining the overall championship of the 30th Southeast Asian Games hosted by the country last November.
After earlier winning the men’s floor exercise during the World Artistic Gymnastics championship in Germany to qualify for this year’s Tokyo Olympcs, Yulo captured an unmatched total of two golds and five silvers in the SEA Games. INQ