The latest buzz in the Philippine basketball realm is that Tim Cone, head coach of the Barangay Ginebra in our very own Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), is the favorite to land the Gilas head coaching role for this year’s Southeast Asian Games to be hosted by our basketball-loving country.  Yours truly believes that Cone is a good fit for the role but let’s dig deeper into the pros and cons of this move, Palawan.

The Upside

Cone is a grizzled X-Os tactician and is currently the winningest basketball coach in PBA history.  His on-court adjustments and game-time decisions are mostly flawless and he has the command and respect of the players.  If I am not mistaken, he is the forefather of scouting analytics in the country back when we didn’t know about sports analytics in the first place.  He dissects opponents plays and has effectively utilized his coaching staff to do scouting intelligence against their opponents.  Cone was a step ahead of his coaching peers in the 90’s.  He innovated Philippine coaching by developing many future head coaches like Joel Banal, Chot Reyes, Jeffrey Cariaso, Louie Alas and many more.  All the mentioned coaches have, at some point, served as able lieutenants in Time Cone’s coaching staff.

If a blended core of professional players like Junemar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks along with collegiate superstars like Kobe Paras, Juan Gomez De Liano, Thirdy Ravena, Justin Baltazar, the Ildefonso brothers at NU (Dave and Shaun), and even Kai Sotto can be put together at his disposal, Cone will effectively put structure and strategy in play to form the best squad possible for the SEA games.

I personally think that we can bag the crown in this sport even if we do not field a foreign import.  Train the locals and Fil-Ams and build them for the next World Cup.  Cone should not be viewed as a short time solution but as a long term mentor for Team Pilipinas should this move happen.  I say this because Tim Cone has the penchant for repetition and familiarity which are key components of his ageless triangle offense.  The best formation of the team starts with the SEA games.  Line up a youth movement in there.  Form a 24 man pool of 26-year-olds and under.  And yes, get from the collegiate ranks and apply a rule in the PBA that a rookie, sophomore or third-year player should be mandated to prioritize the national cause over the ball club who hired them.

If Cone decides to get a naturalized player, he will surely get a scoring forward, not a center, unlike past Gilas teams.  He has always quoted Justin Brownley as a perfect fit for Gilas so we, more or less, know he will be aiming for a score. The post can be manned by Fajardo, Slaughter, and Sotto anyway.   I also believe Cone can convert Bobby Ray Parks as a true point guard at the international level.

All is not lost in our national basketball cause but we need to get back on the winning side by bagging gold convincingly in the SEA Games later this year.

The SEA Games Hosting

Another exciting event worth watching is our country’s hosting of this year’s Southeast Asian Games!  The biennial meet’s window is from November 30 to December 11, 2019.  Sporting events are spread all over but the bulk of the events are concentrated in Manila, Clark, and Subic.  In fact, Clark is building up and very much just putting the finishing touches to the New Clark City, a sports buff’s haven, that spreads out to Capas Tarlac.

We are talking about brand new, state of the art facilities that will showcase our capability to handle more major international events.  I do hope that we maintain these facilities well to also house, hone and develop our national athletes for future tournaments.  If we wish to upgrade our chances to compete well on a higher level of sports, our athletes deserve newer facilities and equipment too.

Our goal here is to try to land into the top 3 of the gold medal haul and I am sure our National Sports Associations will do everything they can to host our guests well and compete to the best of our abilities.  I am sure we will be ready to joust up well against the regional powerhouses like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

I can’t wait for the SEA games to unfold and I definitely have plans to cover this event for you, Palawan.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)

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