IT’S a coaching challenge far different from Tim Cone had experienced in the past.
For the first time in his distinguished career, Cone will be up against someone in the PBA finals who knows him from a long, long time.
Lastimosa, 59, of course played for Cone for more than a decade and won nine of his 10 league titles – including a grand slam in 1996 - as part of Alaska’s Big Three along with Johnny Abarrientos and Bong Hawkins.
Not to mention Lastimosa serving as one of Cone’s deputies in his last few years with the Aces.
“He’s my team captain for years, my assistant coach for years. And having to go against him, it’s going to be difficult because he knows me like the back of his hands,” said the 65-year-old champion coach.
While he may have the ultimate experience as far as coaching in championship series is concerned, Cone thinks Lastimosa has one distinct advantage over him with all the work they’ve done through the years.
“He knows what I like to do. He knows what I want to do, but I don’t necessarily know what he wants to do,” said Cone with a big laugh.
At the same time, he lauded the player responsible for giving him his first PBA championship for doing a great job at TNT despite assuming the job just at the start of the conference when he took the reins from Chot Reyes.
“Jojo is coaching his mind out. I mean he’s out of his mind coaching right now, and he’s doing incredibly well,” said Cone of Lastimosa, who steered the Tropang Giga as the top seeded team heading into the playoffs.