April 25, 2024

Tim Cone reveals facet he's thrilled about in Gilas' unforgettable Asian Games campaign

Tim Cone reveals facet he
One Sports/Paolo del Rosario

Gilas Pilipinas considered backing out of competing in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. A week before tip-off, the Philippines dealt with confusion involving a 60-player wish list that was downsized to 37. This almost derailed what turned out to be a historic campaign for the Filipino hoopers in the continent’s biggest sporting event.

Luckily for the Philippines, all Gilas members, from the top brass to the 12th man, forgot to include the word "retreat" in their vocabularies. Lacking in prep time, Gilas went out and fought for the flag. Whatever jelling and familiarization the team needed had to be accomplished throughout the course of the tournament.

Coach Tim Cone captured lightning in a bottle. The players he handled turned out to be a special group. As the Asian Games progressed, the squad got better, and in the gold medal game against Jordan, Gilas played its best basketball en route to a claiming a victory 61 years in the making.

“The guys, they just work so hard. We had just tremendous wins through that, Iran, China was an epic game,” Cone told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during the team’s arrival on Sunday.

“Coming out and playing as well as they did against Jordan, when we needed to, we saved our best for last,” he added.

For Gilas to succeed in the Asiad, the players had to make some sort of leap in terms of improvement within themselves and chemistry among each other, along with the coaches. They did just that, in a short period, no less.

“We played big when we need to play the most big. It was just a thrill to be with all those guys and watch them grow in the short time that we had,” the veteran tactician added.

The players might just bring that growth to their mother teams in the PBA. Expect the likes of Scottie Thompson, Kevin Alas, and Chris Newsome to light up the 48th season.

(With reports from Ian Suyu, News5)