WHILE focus is on the festivities in Palawan, seven-time All-Star coach Tim Cone doesn't mind staying away this time as he concentrates on Purefoods Star import Denzel Bowles’ refresher course on the triangle offense.
Cone is running the practice this week with Bowles and the team’s reserves, while six of his key players are in Puerto Princesa to play in the All-Star Game on Sunday.
“I’m staying here (in Manila) because I got an import to teach, and I’ve got a lot of work to do here,” Cone told Spin.ph, before the team's practice on Thursday.
The multi-titled Purefoods Star mentor managed to steer the Hotshots to a 113-105 overtime win over San Miguel in the team's last outing before the All-Star break, thanks to James Yap’s hot-shooting in the extension period where he scored eight of his 15 points.
The Hotshots are in solo fourth spot with a 5-3 record, and the 57-year-old Cone is bracing for a tough three-game stretch to close the team’s single-round eliminations schedule.
“We have a tough schedule ahead of us after the All-Star that’s why we’re working on the system and immersing Denzel as much with the rest of the guys,” he added.
Bowles, tapped to replace Daniel Orton more than a week ago, averaged 33.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 blocks in his first two games with the Hotshots.
His last PBA stint was in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup where the Hotshots, then known as San Mig Coffee Mixers, lost to eventual champion Alaska in the semifinals.
After the PBA All-Star weekend, Purefoods Star returns to action on March 14 in Davao City where the Hotshots face league-leader Talk ’N Text, followed by Barako Bull on March 17.
Purefoods Star closes its elimination round assignment against Meralco on March 20.