Following the rousing start to the 30th Southeast Asian Games campaign of Gilas Pilipinas against Singapore, head coach Tim Cone vowed that what happened in 1998 would not happen again.
Four games later, the decorated tactician has delivered his promise.
The 21-time champion coach once again recalled. “Years ago, I coached the Centennial Team. I always waited for my chance to really work for the gold.
“This is so special to me, to come back and coach the national team for a short time. It’s been truly special. I never had a gold.”
Cone admitted it was nothing short of a struggle, what with PBA season still ongoing and some players in the pool suffered injuries. Nonetheless, with top-caliber players on board, dealing with these hardships made it easier for this mentor.
“We didn’t have a lot of time, and that was a little bit scary,” he said.
“The guys were great — they’re veterans, they know the game. It’s just a real honor to be around these guys. It is amazing to be around Chris Ross, June Mar (Fajardo), Christian (Standhardinger), watching these guys play. I was always on the other side,” Cone continued
“It’s amazing to see their devotion to the game and their devotion to flag and country. They were awesome. I can’t, seriously, can’t complain about one little bit.”
Finally having tasted gold, the stigma of that bitter missed chance 21 years ago has been erased and forgotten. And finally, Cone can say he did it.
“We said ‘Who’s won the gold on this team?’ We’re super excited, I’m super excited. For me, this is number one.”