Tim Cone added yet another feather to his cap on Sunday night when he was named as the Outstanding Coach of the Bubble in the virtual PBA Press Corps Annual Awards Night at the TV5 Media Center in Mandaluyong.
This is now the fourth time that he has won top coach honors. He won his first Baby Dalupan Coach of the Year plum in 1994, then two more in 1996 and 2014 for his Grand Slams with Alaska and San Mig Coffee, respectively.
The CotY award was named after the one and only ‘Maestro’ of Philippine basketball. But even if Cone had already surpassed the great mentor in terms of PBA titles won, he still feels honored to be associated with him.
“I have great love for the Dalupan family and I have great love for Coach Baby himself. It’s truly an honor for me to be associated with him in any situation,” the PBA’s only 23-time champion coach said in his acceptance speech.
Cone receives the award from the men and women who cover the PBA beat for his work in the Philippine Cup bubble last year. He steered Barangay Ginebra to the top of undoubtedly the hardest tilt ever held in league history.
Despite a plethora of problems such as the absence of Greg Slaughter and the health status of LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar, the Gin Kings succeeded and won their first all-Filipino crown in 13 years.
The league’s most popular team won the championship at the expense of TNT Tropang Giga in five games to win its 13th title. It now ties the fabled Crispa franchise at no. 4 overall in the all-time winning list.
Cone deserves every ounce of the recognition, but he didn’t make it all about himself. In fact, he even shared the award with Phoenix Super LPG head coach Topex Robinson, whom he coached briefly in Alaska in 2010.
“I just wanna acknowledge him and share this award with him, Topex Robinson,” said Cone, who won the 2010 Fiesta Conference championship with Robinson — his last title with the Aces before leaving in 2011.
Robinson, 45, was appointed as interim head coach of the Fuel Masters after the shock firing of Louie Alas, who brought him along in 2017 when he transferred from Alaska to take the team’s coaching reins.
It was during the course of the bubble season last November that the former Lyceum mentor was officially appointed as head coach. And with him at the helm, the Dennis Uy-owned franchise had a memorable run.
Robinson led his wards to the no. 2 seed with 8-3 card, earning twice-to-beat advantage for the quarterfinals which they used to stun Magnolia on their way to their second straight Philippine Cup semis.
The Fuel Masters even moved one win away from the championship round before bowing to TNT in the best-of-five tilt that went the distance.
“Topex did a tremendous job with his team. This one’s for you as well,” said Cone, who’s been coaching in the PBA since 1989.
Cone also took the time to express gratitude to San Miguel Corp. Pres. Ramon S. Ang, SMC sports director and Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua, and the rest of his Gin Kings as he won yet another accolade.
“I really have to thank Boss RSA and Coach Alfrancis Chua. I don’t know how they do it, they just keep finding ways to make our team better. They are absolutely amazing,” said Cone.
“I’d like to thank our staff, our coaching staff, and our players. We get all the credit, the head coaches, but there is so much that goes on behind the scenes. If people can see that, they’ll realize that the awards go to them and not to us.
“I’m really proud of our players for going through the ups and downs of the bubble and finding ways to move forward,” he closed.