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2024 Summer Olympics

Tim Cone: Latvia triumph a milestone for Gilas and Filipino Basketball


Tim Cone is the most decorated champion in the Philippine Basketball Association.

During his stellar 35-year coaching career, he has won 25 PBA championships and has been named Coach of the Year five times.

Just last year, he steered the Philippines back to the top of Asian basketball, ending the country’s 61-year wait for Asian Games gold.

But on Thursday morning (Manila time), the 66-year-old coach might have achieved the biggest feather in his cap.

In a momentous upset, he guided the 37th-ranked Philippines to a stunning 89-80 wire-to-wire victory over world No. 6 and home team Latvia to open their 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament campaign.

After the win, Cone admitted it was one of the biggest wins in his career.

“Certainly! Anytime you can get to the international arena and have success, that’s a huge feather in your cap – not just for me, but also for the players and everyone back home,” said Cone.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Gilas-def-Latvia-Tim-Cone Tim Cone: Latvia triumph a milestone for Gilas and Filipino Basketball 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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Though born in Oregon, Cone basically grew up in the Philippines.

He is a proud son of Aurora, Baler, and a product of International School Manila.

Though studying and graduating from a US school, he ended up back home, working in the Philippines first as a banker before becoming a basketball coach.

“I grew up in the Philippines, so I’ve been there my whole life since I was nine years old,” he shared.

“They know that I’m basically Filipino, even though I have brown hair and green eyes.”

Cone knows that just like him, every Filipino is a basketball nut.

Despite being 5,629 miles away, Cone knows that the entire country is watching them, despite the game airing at 12 midnight.

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“Our country is so passionate about basketball, and everyone pretty much knows that now because of the last World Cup. So for us to have success on the international stage really means a lot to what’s going on back home. This is what we’ve always wanted,” he continued.

“This is a huge step for us – playing a Latvia team at home, going up against them face to face, and coming out with a win. It’s amazing for us.”

But with the win comes expectations.

Using “basketball math,” the Philippines defeated Latvia, which blew out Georgia, 83-55, on opening day.

Filipinos are expecting that Gilas will also handle Georgia easily.

But that is not the case, Cone stressed.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Gilas-def-Latvia-Al-Panlilio Tim Cone: Latvia triumph a milestone for Gilas and Filipino Basketball 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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“Whenever you win a game, the expectations go up, so you have to keep chasing the expectations. Hopefully, we won’t feel that, and hopefully, we can get that communicated to our team – that we don’t play into expectations and just play the way we can play,” he expressed.

“Like I said, our country is so passionate about basketball that there is a lot of intense pressure to succeed. It seems like we haven’t been successful, but that doesn’t mean anything to our team. They want us to be successful all the time,” he added.

“We’ll play Georgia, and our country is going to expect us to win tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough job to beat Georgia.”

And Cone knows that the joy of victory only lasts until the next game.

The next mission is leading the Philippines to the OQT semifinals.

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