TIM Cone knows it takes more than talent, hardwork, or luck to complete a feat as monumental as a PBA grand slam. There has got to be 'something special' thrown into the mix.
He has it with Alaska before; he's seeing it with San Mig now.
"It takes a special team to get through the pressure of getting through the grand slam and finish it to the end," said Cone, a day before San Mig plays Game Two of the PBA Governors Cup Finals against Rain or Shine.
With a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five finals, San Mig is just two wins away from completing the first 'triple crown' in franchise history - and the second for Cone who pulled off the trick with Alaska in 1996.
They Said It!
“I think that’s where these big comebacks and playing big down the stetch and playing big knockout games come from. It comes from trust, the trust they have built in each other." San Mig coach Tim Cone
No wonder Cone sees a lot of parallels between this San Mig team and his fabled Alaska ballclub, not just among the players of both sides but with the bond and trust that enabled them to reach great heights.
"I'm just saying the bond this team has built is very similar to what it was then (at Alaska)," said Cone, already the most successful team in the pro league with 17 championships. "There was a special bond in the Alaska team, they’re (Mixers) getting there, very close."
Already, Cone said he sees striking similarities between players like James Yap and Jojo Lastimosa in the way they never failed to step up in the clutch; or between Marc Pingris and his former big man at Alaska, Bong Hawkins.
The American coach also couldn't help but compare San Mig import Marqus Blakely with his longtime reinforcement at Alaska, Sean Chambers.
But like Alaska, San Mig as a whole is better than the sum of its parts, Cone said.
This bond among the players has enabled San Mig to bounce back after losing a 0-2 lead to Talk 'N Text in their Governors Cup semifinal series, come back from a 17-point hole against Rain or Shine in Game One, and survive 17 of 21 do-or-die matches it has played under Cone.
“It’s almost a little bit like a deja vu, but these guys (Mixers) are developing a special bond and a special trust in each other,” the 56-year-old San Mig coach told Spin.ph.
“I think that’s where these big comebacks and playing big down the stetch and playing big knockout games come from. It comes from trust, the trust they have built in each other,” he added.
“They’ll step up together collectively and wipe away the doubts and they’ll gonna get it done.”
Cone considered himself fortunate to have seen it before with Alaska in the nineties; now he considers himself really lucky to witness it again with San Mig 18 years later.
"I've seen that once before, I’m getting a chance to see it again," Cone said. "You don't see it all the time, I haven't seen that in 18 years."