By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE Philippine national men’s basketball team will have a new coach when it plays in the 30th Southeast Asian Games here later this year in multi-titled Philippine Basketball Association coach Tim Cone.

In an announcement made on Monday, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, through its president Al Panlilio, confirmed that Mr. Cone, who currently handles the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, had agreed to take on the challenge of coaching the Gilas Pilipinas men’s team in the biennial regional sporting meet, which the country is hosting from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

The SBP president said he talked to Mr. Cone over the weekend about the possibility of being the Gilas coach and the latter said he was interested but needed to talk to his family first.

Reports also had it that San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang gave the go-ahead to the Barangay Ginebra coach to handle Gilas, clearing any impediments from his mother ball club to take on the job.

Mr. Cone will be taking over from Yeng Guiao, who stepped down from his post following a rough campaign by the Philippines in the recently held FIBA Basketball World Cup, where it finished dead-last in the 32-team field.

The coaching development marked a return to national team duty by Mr. Cone, who coached the Philippine squad, known as the Centennial Team,” in 1998 and won the Wiiliam Jones Cup trophy and the bronze medal in the Asian Games in Thailand.

Now with Gilas, Mr. Cone will work on what reportedly is a mix pool of players from the PBA and collegiate standouts.

Among those part of the pool are Christian Standhardinger of the San Miguel Beermen and Stanley Pringle of Barangay Ginebra.

Collegiate players included in the pool are Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go of Ateneo University, Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero of the University of the Philippines and Justin Baltazar of De La Salle University.

The SBP, though, cleared that for now the agreement with Mr. Cone is only for the SEA Games and that plans for him to coach beyond that would have to be discussed and threshed out further.

Just the same, the country’s basketball federation expressed excitement over Mr. Cone coming on board so as to get the country’s preparations for the SEA Games rolling.

“The resolution of our head coach situation should signify the start of our SEA Games preparations because the other countries like Indonesia are already putting in the work,” Mr. Panlilio said.