AS Alaska took another huge step toward the PBA Commissioner's Cup championship on Friday night, one man who for so long had been synonymous with the organization sat almost inconspicuously behind the opposing bench, hardly showing any emotion.
Tim Cone sat behind the Barangay Ginebra bench, being part of the San Miguel Corp. organization now as coach of San Mig. But the architect of the Aces' first 13 league titles in the pro league makes no effort to hide his admiration for the man who took when he left the ballclub.
Luigi Trillo not only absorbed all that he had seen from him for 12 years, Cone said, but he has taken it to a whole new level.
“I am happy for Luigi. He not only got it for 12 years, he’s also taking what I’ve done and taking it to another level,” said Cone, whose team got sideswiped by Alaska and Trillo in the semifinal stage on the way to the finals against Ginebra. “I am proud of him."
The 55-year-old Oregon native had been the top proponent of Tex Winter's triangle offense - a system which Trillo has not only embraced but, according to Cone, has given several delightful twists.
All for the better.
“They’re not running purely the triangle at this point. They’re doing some other stuff, that’s really nice stuff, offensively,” Cone said. “They’re doing little different things - but basically they’ve got some offense of their own that we were not doing.
“It’s been very effective, they are now running 17 and 4 (win-loss) this conference. They’re playing great.”
As to how Alaska has been able to dominate Ginebra in the championship series of the mid-season tournament, the outspoken coach believes the Aces are doing it with discipline and physicality.
“They’re playing very disciplined basketball. They got attention to detail and they’re frustrating Ginebra with their defense,” he said.
“And they’re also playing very physical, not just (Calvin) Abueva. Sonny Thoss is ver y physical, even the guards like Dondon (Hontiveros). They’re not backing down on anything,” said.
Asked if his presence at ringside had given his former team and longtime understudy an emotional boost, Cone broke into laughter.
“I don’t think they knew I was here," he laughed.