By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE opening-day game between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and TNT KaTropa on Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan marked the 30th year that veteran Philippine Basketball Association bench tactician Tim Cone is coaching in the league.
And he said he still excited about it after all these years, more so since he is coaching the Kings at this stage of his Hall-of-Fame career.
Talked to BusinessWorld prior to start of the 44th season of Asia’s first play-for-pay league, Mr. Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history with 21 titles, said he still looking forward to every league opening after 30 years as coach, which was further enhanced since taking the job with Barangay Ginebra in 2015.
“I think coaching Ginebra brings a certain level of excitement I did not have early in my career. Ginebra is still very new to me. The expectations and pressure from the big fans, it’s very challenging and we get so much attention on and off the court. Dealing with that and going through it is really refreshing,” said Mr. Cone, 61.
“So I don’t feel like I’m stuck with something I’ve been doing for a long time. And it is still new for me with Ginebra despite it being already three years. Plus, you never get tired of winning and I have a talented crew behind me and we feel we can achieve more,” added the coach, who started his PBA career with the Alaska franchise in 1989.
Mr. Cone went on to say that the ongoing Philippine Cup is something they are really eyeing as the Barangay Ginebra franchise has not won it for quite some time now, the last time during the 2006-07 season.
“Historically it (All-Filipino) has been the crown jewel. And we talk a lot about it, about winning it. The All-Filipino is a difficult one to win because all the teams know each other. And there is only one of it and two import-laden conferences in a season,” Mr. Cone said.
“Plus there is the dominant San Miguel team which has won four straight and aiming for more. But we have had success against them of late, beating them in the Commissioner’s Cup finals last year so I our confidence is a bit high in facing them. I believe we have what it takes to beat them,” he added.
The Kings opened their Philippine Cup campaign with a victory over TNT, 90-79, where big men Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter made their presence felt with 21 and 17 points, respectively.
They return to action against San Miguel on Jan. 20.