Tim Cone is the most accomplished basketball coach in Philippine basketball history.
He has won 18 championships, that includes winning the rare Grand Slam twice. He has been coach of the year thrice and national team head coach as well.
Friday night, however, can arguably be one of the most amazing games the 26 year head coach has coached in. Ginebra head coach Tim Cone was given an extraordinary Christmas Day treat after the team clawed back from 18 points down to shock the Star Hotshots in overtime, 92-89, and advance to the second phase of the PBA quarter-finals.
Ginebra was still trailing by eight, 76-68 in the final 1:13 before the team was able to hit shot after shot to force overtime.
In the extra period, Star and Ginebra traded three triples each to knot the game again at 89 apiece, before LA Tenorio hit a game-winning three just as time expired to complete the miraculous comeback.
The mentor was still hearing “Hee-ne-brah!” chants while talking to the press, and like them, he was still in disbelief after a one-of-a-kind display of grit. “It’s amazing, they’re still chanting out there. I have never been around this before. It is all new to me,” he said. “I am as much as shocked as the fans are. This is one night we made the fans happy. I am happy for them.”
The comeback did not come easily for Ginebra, which experienced questionable calls towards the end of regulation. First was a foul on Scottie Thompson who appeared to just be going for a steal, and another on LA Tenorio who defended Mark Barroca well as the latter seemed to have called for a timeout.
Nevertheless, Cone says he is too experienced to let the mistakes get the better of him. “I am all for moving on. I get mad at a referee, it is okay the next game. I don’t bring it home and dwell on it. It’s going to keep me up at night. I’ve been along for 26 years to know referees are human and they are gonna make mistakes,” he said.
“It kind of happened a little bit tonight, but it is just something you move on from. I explodes when it happens but it beats you up when you stay with it. Phil Jackson, I love his quote, he calls the referees ‘neccessary evil.’ It’s not a perfect world so you need arbitrators. We couldn’t play the game without them and it is not an easy job.”
As for the entire experience, the mentor calls it: “Truly amazing. This one of the most amazing games I’ve ever been involved with.”
“These guys just played with a big heart. When I am long gone, they were still going at it.”
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