TIM Cone said San Mig stars like James Yap, Peter June Simon, and Marc Pingris have a common understanding that individual glory takes a backseat to a greater goal this season.
In a season where San Mig is on course for only the fifth grand slam in league history, no one among its stars will be on the ballot when the media, players, and PBA officials cast their vote for the MVP award.
The only time such scenario happened was in 1989, when Shell's Benjie Paras became the league's first rookie-MVP in a season where San Miguel Beer completed a grand slam under Norman Black.
The three other MVPs on grand slam seasons came from the winning team - William 'Bogs' Adornado and Abet Guidaben (Crispa in 1976 and 1983) and Johnny Abarrientos (Alaska in 1996).
That won't happen in the event San Mig completes a grand slam since Yap and Co. are too far back in the statistical race and have not won any Best Player of the Conference awards this season to be in the reckoning for the league's highest individual honor.
Cone, however, said that is fine by his star players as he made comparisons between his grand slam-seeking team and newly crowned NBA champions San Antonio Spurs.
“The way we go about things, I think they are fine with it (not figuring in the MVP race). They are not looking for individual goals, and yeah, it’s part of the system,” Cone told Spin.ph.
“It’s just the way our system is set up. If you look at the Spurs, Timmy (Duncan) and maybe Tony (Parker) had a little bit of votes about the MVP because he had a great early part of the year,” he added.
“But those guys (Duncan and Parker) don’t get any votes and San Antonio wins championships, so I just think these (Mixers players) guys would rather be holding team trophies than individual trophies.”
Cone, the most successful coach in league history with 17 championships, said winning championships is the only priority at this stage of the careers of Yap and Pingris and Simon.
“I think they understand that and I think that’s important to them (team championships)," said Cone. "James has had his two MVPs so it’s not a big deal for James, while I’m sure PJ would like to get a little more recognition but again, I think they are at the stage of their careers where winning is most important.”
For the past two seasons, Cone has tried to cut down the playing minutes of Yap, Simon, Pingris, along with other vital cogs like Joe Devance and Mark Barroca, to preserve them for the playoffs as San Mig won three successive championships from last year's Governors Cup.
The tactic has worked wonders for the team's success but dimmed the players' chances of winning any of the yearend awards up for grabs.
With only the semifinal and finals matches to be played, Simon is the highest-ranked San Mig player in the MVP tally at No. 11 with 24.9 statistical points - way behind topnotcher June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer.
Pingris, last season’s Governors Cup Finals MVP, is in 12th place with 24.87 SPs; Barroca is further down in 16th spot (23.7); while Yap lies in 20th place with 22.3 SPs.
Cone, though, doesn't expect any complaint anytime soon.
“These guys have been here for a while so I think winning is most important for them,” the multi-titled American coach said.