Tim Cone reminds Gilas to stay focused for long haul

Tim Cone reminds Gilas to stay focused for long haul

/ 05:25 AM February 23, 2024

Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Qualifiers

Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Qualifiers. –FIBA PHOTO

HONG KONG–There was one line that national coach Tim Cone reached for over and over throughout Gilas Pilipinas’ short visit here for the curtain-raiser of the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers, a mantra that will guide the program through a long and arduous journey for the next four years.

Keep that big picture in mind.


“[If] we don’t keep that big picture in mind, the [Fiba] window right here won’t seem that important—the days, the things we do—when [the reality] is our goal is four years away,” Cone told the Inquirer in one of the practices held at Tsuen Wan Sports Centre.


SCHEDULE: Gilas at Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers window 1

“[The players] have to keep that big picture in mind so that they can keep their intensity level, their purpose so we can take advantage of every moment, now,” he added.

That “big picture” is returning to the 2027 World Cup that will next be staged in Qatar. Within that tournament lies a chance to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles the next year. “We know where we want to get to. But what’s important for us is how to get there and so every day has to have a purpose,” Cone said.

Rout of Hong Kong

And so Gilas did just that. Cone and his brain trust featuring Richard del Rosario, Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes made sure that they did not take a lower-ranked opponent lightly, pouring the heat in the third quarter for a 94-64 rout of host Hong Kong.

“The bottom line is that this isn’t the level of teams we’re gonna be playing all the time,” he said of the hosts, who are 81 notches behind the Philippines in Fiba’s global ladder at No. 118.

During the sendoff presser, Cone noted that Gilas is also looking to make it to the Paris Olympics via the qualifying showcase in Riga, Latvia, this coming July. “We’re going to play Latvia, Georgia. Montenegro if we have a chance. Maybe even Brazil if we can get through the early games [of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July]. And then in the World Cup, we’re also going to be playing other good teams,” Cone said.

READ: Paris 2024 or LA 2028, Tim Cone wants Olympic stint for Gilas

“That’s what we’re building towards—to be a team that competes there. We are not worried about competing now—we know we can compete now with this team.”


The buy-in has been palpable thus far, with players like CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo, and even naturalized ace Justin Brownlee expressing their enthusiasm for Cone’s grand plan.

“By the time the program ends, I’ll be 34,” Perez said with a chuckle. “I’m excited to be a part of it, and I really just hope that all of us in this group are healthy by that time we are back in the World Cup.”

“Some players beg to get into the national team. Some of us here are automatic, so I’m just blessed to be considered [to be part of the team] that is why I don’t take [opportunities like this] for granted,” said Fajardo, who could be playing in his fourth World Cup in 2027—a record by any Filipino standout.

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“Coach Tim—he’s always believed in me as far as my abilities [are concerned]. It makes me feel more confident. Even my teammates, you know, they still think highly of me,” said Brownlee. “It’s definitely giving me confidence as far as their belief [in me] goes.”

TAGS: FIBA, Gilas Pilipinas, Tim Cone

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