TIM Cone has mixed emotions upon learning the import which gave him his last championship at Alaska is back.
“I’m happy for him that he’s back and I’m unhappy that he’s not with us,” a smiling Cone said when asked about Alaska balik-import Diamon Simposon. “I’m happy to see him back. I’m just sad that it’s not for us.”
Simpson was a fresh burst of talent when he first came over eight years ago as Alaska’s import in the 2010 Fiesta Cup, which the Aces won after an upset of a favored San Miguel side featuring Best Import awardee Gabe Freeman in the finals.
The championship was the last of the 13 titles Cone won with the Aces.
The 60-year-old coach disclosed to SPIN.ph he did try to get the services of the 30-year-old Simpson when he hooked up with the SMC group later on.
“I’ve been trying to get Diamon for years. I’ve tried to get him when I was with Purefoods, we talked to him here with Ginebra,” the Gin Kings coachsaid. “But he’s either in Turkey, Australia, or whatever.”
Eventually, Simpson became available when Alaska went looking for a replacement for the wantaway Antonio Campbell.
Cone recalled the time he handled the St. Mary’s product as something ‘special.’
“I think Mr. Uytengsu Sr. passed away at that time, and that there was a real push for us to win a championship because we want to honor him,” recalled the champion coach.
“So that was a special championship, one that we remember well.”
Both coach and import can’t do the same thing together now as they belong to opposite teams with a long, rich rivalry going between them.
As the playoffs of the mid-season conference unfold, the Kings and Aces won’t cross paths until the finals, assuming both get that far.
Cone, who said he didn’t know Simpson was in town until he got the official league memo about him replacing Campbell, said it would look awkward seeing the two of them having a good time in public.
“It’s not I can call him and bring him to dinner. He’s Alaska and I’m Ginebra,” he stressed. “We’re on opposite ends.”
“But at some point, we’ll sure to shake hands and say hello,” Cone said. “Maybe we’ll see each other along the hallways or something like that and say hello and greet each other. Then maybe, when it’s all over, we’ll be able to go out and have dinner.”
And who wouldn’t like to be with a guy like Simpson, according to the Ginebra coach.
“He’s a great guy, a great teammate,” said Cone. “He plays really well, and he’s a great fit for this league.”