GINEBRA and Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone surely felt ecstatic after the Kings ended San Miguel’s Grand Slam bid via a thrilling 100-97 decision last Sunday night in their PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals battle.
More than the big win, Cone heaved a sigh of relief, saying he can now focus on his task of leading Gilas to a gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games the country is hosting from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
“I feel like I landed one plane. I feel like an air traffic controller at this point. Got a couple of planes circling up, going around and if I try to land them both at the same time, they’re gonna crash so I gotta really focus on landing one and going out to try to land another. Of course, I’m talking about the SEA Games Gilas team,” Cone was quoted as saying by online sports portal ESPN 5.
“I really wanted to try to focus… the responsibilities for both situations are huge. For Ginebra fans, it’s so important to achieve for them and then you gotta turn around and achieve for the whole country,” he added.
The triumph enabled the Kings to clinch a semifinals berth and will plunge into action when the pro league returns from a break to give way to the nation’s hosting of the 11-nation, 12-day event.
Cone tapped Ginebra players LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle, and Japeth Aguilar to lead the final 12-man line-up for the biennial meet. Completing the squad are the Beermen’s June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross; Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario of TNT; Northport’s Christian Standhardinger; Vic Manuel of Alaska; Phoenix’s Matthew Wright; and Kiefer Ravena of NLEX.
The basketball competitions of the Games are set from Dec. 4 to 10, with the nationals emerging as the odds-on favorite to win their 13th straight gold and 18th overall.
Gilas is expected to hold practices every day starting on Thursday.
Cone, the winningest coach in the pros, is convinced that despite the lack of time preparing for the SEAG, the Filipino dribblers can still hack it.
“With this group, I think it’s enough. Sure, I would love to have more time, more games to do certain things, but at this point, with the restraints that we have, I think that’s enough,” he said. – Michael Jugado