The 2015 PBA offseason is just starting, but the league is already witness to the biggest move after the San Miguel Corporation formally announced Tim Cone as the next head coach of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Along with the move is the Star Hotshots’ promotion of Jason Webb to head coach to replace the spot vacated by Cone.
With the announcement, Barangay Ginebra is entering a new era. After years of futility, the team is pinning its hopes on the winningest head coach in league history.
The good news is Cone is capable of doing that, as he is one of the best in utilizing player strengths and putting it together into a collective whole. He is also a master of the triangle, a system which he used to cop multiple titles in the past.
The thought of Cone now in control of calling the shots for a team having Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and LA Tenorio is exciting. The idea of having him long-term and leading a team hungry for success brings positivity.
But the entire Ginebra community — management, players, staff, followers — has to understand that it will take time for all of their dreams to come to fruition; it needs a lot of work to achieve that, and patience.
In his first conference with the B-Meg Llamados franchise after a shocking departure from the Alaska Aces where he established his legacy, Cone led the SMC squad to the top seed of the 2011-12 Philippine Cup.
With the number one seed, the Llamados needed only one win in the quarterfinals where they were pitted against the no. 8 seed Powerade Tigers, but the Llamados faltered in their quest to make the semi-final.
Bannered by Gary David who averaged 34.5 points in the two games, the Tigers stunned the Llamados with back to back wins to eliminate the no. 1 team.
David eventually won the Best Player of the Conference award while Powerade made it all the way to the finals of the Philippine Cup.
While most were shocked by the reality Cone faced in his first conference with the Llamados, the mentor didn’t allow it to create a room for disappointment. It was instead a motivator for Cone, who always believed in continuity.
The Llamados kept their core, and in the next conference, the team won the Commissioner’s Cup title. Still, the B-Meg franchise had to weather short-comings like failing to defend the same title in 2013, and losing the 2012 Governors’ Cup crown.
But through it all, Cone was at the helm of the team and always believed it was part of the process. In the 2013-14 season, the San Mig Coffee Mixers won a rare Grand Slam title that further elevated Cone’s status in Philippine basketball.
It will not come easy for the league’s most popular club team. This is the point everyone needs to be patient. Ginebra fans have endured 8 years of not being in the podium anyway, so they have what it takes to keep the faith.
There will be low points. There will be struggles. But the most important thing for Ginebra is to stick together.
The team has had numerous attempts in the past to bring new mentors and players, treating them as “saviors” but that is not the formula for success.
It does not take overnight to succeed with a new system, but sticking together and putting hard work day after day may lead to an even better result that is worth the wait.
Ginebra has to build on this move. Paninindigan is the Filipino word for it. They brought Cone to the fold, and so they should work hand in hand with him.
Lofty expectations should be set aside for now, but this move brings hope.
This is the time Ginebra needs to be patient the most. This is where they should carry the fight with Cone every step of the way, and never give up.