New Gilas coach could face same old problems

New Gilas coach could face same old problems

/ 04:49 PM January 29, 2024

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone during a training session for the Asian Games.

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone during a training session for the Asian Games. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is about to open a new era, but the specter of past hurdles continues to hover over the national program.

Tim Cone, hands down the most decorated mentor in the country, is set to be given the keys to the men’s basketball team according to a pair of Inquirer sources with his appointment set to be made official this Monday.

While the move should please many quarters, the lack of a clear-cut road map would mean that Cone’s staff will be thrust into dealing with the same old problems—like player availability and condensed training schedules—that hounded his predecessor and close pal Chot Reyes in the past.

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The SBP is also expected to name a talent pool for the upcoming Fiba events, which, as the Inquirer reported a week ago, is going to be comprised of standouts plying their trade overseas and PBA stars—some of which are holdovers from the Hangzhou Asian Games squad.

The first window of the Asia Cup qualifiers is scheduled Feb. 22 and 24, with the second set for Nov. 21 and Nov. 24. In between is the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Latvia where Gilas Pilipinas will try, for one last time, to make the Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Everything else will be geared toward the next cycle of the World Cup, which will be next staged in Qatar, four years from now.

Cone is expected to keep his post as Barangay Ginebra’s chief tactician while calling the shots for Gilas.

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Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone in the Asian Games

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone. –ASIAN GAMES POOL

Cone has since expressed his opinions on the program having a full-time coach, stressing that “there’s just not enough work.”

“If you are going to use PBA players or Japan players on your team, then you can’t have a full-time job doing Gilas. It’s just not enough work,” he told reporters two over a week ago.

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“It’s only three windows. Basically, this year, you are talking about a maximum of eight games … You can’t pull out all the PBA players and practice them all here for a month or two before each window. There’s really not a lot of work for a head coach, in my opinion,” Cone went on.

“But if you have another program where you get college players, put the team together, and practice every day, that’s another program.”

Erika Dy, the newly minted SBP executive director, has made continuity her priority, which will greatly challenge Cone’s dependence on his access to the PBA’s roster of standouts.

But as a former coach herself, Dy has already seen a possible workaround.

“Ang maganda for me sana, ‘yung mapili ng ating coach is may mga beterano tayo pero may mga up-and-coming [talents] din. Pero basically, I think the premise is we have to always put our best foot forward and therefore, we should bring our best players,” she said in a radio interview last weekend.

Cone, fortunately, has the same belief.

“To me, it’s always about continuity and getting the best 12 players in the county to commit to the program,” he told the Inquirer in an interview earlier this month.

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“It’s true that we won’t beat everyone and that there are teams out there that could, at times, beat us up, but it’s also a reasonable expectation that we be competitive in our backyard in Asia.”

TAGS: Gilas Pilipinas, SBP, Tim Cone

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