When Ginebra head coach Tim Cone was called to the court to give his speech on Friday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, the 22-time PBA champion coach made sure that he did not go alone.
“Coach Richard [Del Rosario], Coach Freddie [Abuda], Coach Kirk [Collier], and Coach Olsen [Racela], come over here,” said Cone, who patted everyone on the back.
“They deserve all the credit for this one.”
For the last four months of 2019, Cone, 62, had been wearing two hats — one as head coach of Ginebra, and another as chief tactician of Gilas Pilipinas Men’s.
He would be the first to admit that his focus at that time was with Gilas, since he did not want to suffer another heartbreak in his second stint with the national team. And the four assistant coaches made sure that Ginebra would not be left behind, handling the practices of the Gin Kings at Upper Deck in Ortigas.
“It was difficult in the fact that we had, you know, our whole team involved in Southeast Asian Games, and we had to turn around and play the semifinals quick. But the break before the semi-finals kind of got us a chance to catch our breath and prepare better for the finals,” recalled Cone, as Gilas eventually dominated the Southeast Asian Games last December.
“And I think just the idea, the honor of playing the Southeast Asian Games, kind of lifted our spirits… And the fact that we did well there and we kind of carried over the momentum into the series. You know, because the whole staff was there, the whole starting lineup basically was there.”
But even in the Finals against Meralco, the quartet continued to step up for Cone.
After suffering a Game Two loss that knotted the series, Cone’s think-tank eventually pitched idea after idea to him. And he was fascinated by all of it.
“By the way, let me just add that we made three key just key adjustments in this series — actually today in this game, but earlier also in the series. And I just want to say every one of them came from Richard del Rosario, came from his ideas. I get all the credit for it. Everybody said, ‘Wow, coach Tim makes such great adjustments’ when I’m not doing any. I just want to add that, because he made some incredible adjustments in the game,” disclosed Cone.
“And, you know, it’s up to me to decide whether to you know, to prioritize it, take it, discard it because we’re getting ideas from you know, coach Olsen, coach Kirk, coach Freddie. We get them all ideas from everybody.”
It included Scottie Thompson, who stands at 6-foot-flat, guarding Chris Newsome, who was bulkier and two inches taller than him. Then there was exposing Durham on defense, forcing the Meralco import to guard the quicker Ginebra backcourt.
“I can go on and on. But you know, just those are some of the key examples of things that you know… I got so many things to think about. I can’t think about them all,” Cone continued.
“That’s why you have a staff and, and I rely on Richard. I just think he’s a great adjustment coach. He just sees the game really well.”
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