Tim Cone sees Gilas match vs talented Thais crucial
The Philippines’ path to a medal in the 19th Asian Games men’s basketball tournament goes through a Thailand side reeling from a hapless thrashing in its first game.
But coach Tim Cone has been in this game long enough to know that is hardly a reason for Gilas Pilipinas to let its guard down.
“No doubt, Thailand is our ‘danger game.’ We simply cannot look past them to (get to) Jordan. We have to take care of business,” he told the Inquirer on the eve of the Thursday duel at Zhejiang University’s Zijingang Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China, that gets going at 11 a.m. (Manila time).
“We’ve had our Southeast Asian Games rivalries with Thailand, but the stakes are much higher in the Asian Games. We know they’ll be ready for us,” he went on.
Thailand is coming off a 97-63 loss to Jordan, the Thais’ US-born top guns Tyler Lamb and Fred Lish were hardly factors with 13 points each. Moses Morgan, another American with Thai lineage, played for just 56 seconds.
This only reinforces Cone’s belief that they are very much capable of springing surprises.
“We know they’ll be ready for us. We have to make sure we’re ready for them. They’ve got some real talent,” he pointed out.
A victory on Wednesday will afford Gilas and Cone a perfect start to their mission—which is to deliver the country’s first gold medal since the 1962 edition of the continental showcase held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
But that’s a detail that the winningest PBA coach refuses to fixate on. Cone, who also coached the Nationals to a bronze medal in 1998, is focused on making sure that the squad is on even keel.
And Gilas has to, especially with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and the Jordanians eagerly waiting for their face-off.