Cone recalls time he was banned in PBA
MANILA, Philippines — Tim Cone has been a permanent fixture in the PBA that it’s hard to fathom a time when he was once banned for one conference.
Well, that time happened and it had to be settled on the courts—the Supreme Court that is.
Cone’s arrival in Alaska in 1989 did not sit well with the coaching demographic of that time and he was eventually in the middle of a case that the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines filed against him in 1990.
“I was actually banned from the PBA for one conference,” said Cone during an episode of the Coaches Unfiltered podcast. “Through 1990, we had the big BCAP case which went all the way to the Supreme Court. That’s what they’ve been using for other foreign coaches who came in, but it started with me.”
According to Supreme Court documents, BCAP questioned the Department of Labor and Employment’s issuance of an alien employment permit to Cone in February of that year, citing Article 40 in the Labor Code that only allows the hiring of a foreigner after “a determination of the non-availability of a person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing at the time of application to perform the services for which the alien is desired.”
General Milling Corporation, Alaska’s parent company, came to Cone’s defense and filed a motion for reconsideration and two more supplemental motions but were all denied.
BCAP eventually got the Supreme Court’s approval, but Cone would get back his place and start an incredible coaching legacy.
While a 33-year-old Cone was in the middle of his legal conundrum, assistant coach Chot Reyes, who was only 27 at that time, took the reins and led Alaska to a third place finish in the 1991 All-Filipino Conference.
It was a tough predicament for the American tactician, watching his validity get questioned especially after living in Baler, Quezon nearly all his life.
He would eventually marry his girlfriend of seven years in Cristina Viaplana and in the process, gained permanent resident status while having a companion and wife for life.
Cone had the final say in his return to the league after he won his first title in the 1991 Third Conference and what followed was nothing short of magical.
He’s the only coach in PBA history to win two Grand Slams and the one to have a two strings of four consecutive titles.
Cone, who was younger than some of his players during his first couple of years with Alaska, expressed his gratitude to Alaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu for helping him in his legal battle and never giving up on him despite the difficulty of the situation.
“Fred Uytengsu was my mentor, he taught me so much about the idea of discipline and work ethic. I had some really down times, I had some real controversial times, the BCAP was something he could just let go of me and say ‘never mind, I don’t wanna battle this,’” said Cone. “But he battled it all the way to the Supreme Court and so he wasn’t just a great mentor but a great friend as well.”
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