COACH Tim Cone is so passionate about his craft that even in an occasion which is purely for fun and entertainment such as the PBA All-Star game, his most memorable moment concerns national pride.
Cone looked back at the 2000 edition of the mid-season spectacle as the one that really stood out for him in the seven times he called the shots in the All-Stars - the most by any coach in the 26-year history of the event.
The game featured a PBA selection which he coached against a team composed of the finest players from around Asia mentored by Lebanon national team Ghassan Sarkis.
Cone remembers having the likes of Johnny Abarrientos, Eric Menk, Rudy Hatfield, Danny Ildefonso, Kenneth Duremdes, Danny Seigle, Bong Hawkins and Alvin Patrimonio in his side, which handily beat the visitors, 101-81, to the delight of the partisan crowd at the Philsports Arena.
“That game gave me a lot of pride because I felt I was coaching the national team against the Asian team,” said Cone as he reflected on that All-Star extravaganza 15 years ago today when the league is again gearing up for the 2015 edition of the annual classic in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
“Al Chua was my assistant and Perry Ronquillo. We selected a team that played against the Asian All Stars. There was a whole mixture of teams, and we played that very seriously,” recalled the most successful coach in the history of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league.
The Asian All-Stars were not something to sneeze at as they were bannered the likes of Fadi El-Khatib, Gong Xiaobin, Zhu Dong, Cheng Chi Lung, Eli McHantaf, Osamah Mubarak, Makoto Hasegawa, and Ali Al-Maghrabi.
“It was a great team, but we ended up winning that game,” added Cone, who was then two years removed from his bronze medal stint with the Centennial Team in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.
In all, Cone has an even 4-4 win-loss mark (two All-Star games were played in 1998) in All-Star history and last coached in the event in 2014 when he mentored a PBA selection that lost to Gilas Pilipinas, 101-93, during the silver anniversary celebration of the extravaganza at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I think that was my memorable All-Star game (2000). That and last year when we coached against the national team (Gilas),” said the Purefoods coach. “It was nice to be out there and coach against the national team and help them get better.”
On the lighter side, the 57-year-old coach also vividly remembers the 2007 All-Stars in Baguio for its bizarre ending.
The South All-Star, of which Cone was coach, lost the game to the North, 145-142 (handled by Jong Uichico), behind co-MVPs Willie Miller and JayJay Helterbrand.
“We were up by like 28 or 30 (points). And then 10 minutes later, we’re down by 25,” said Cone with a big laugh. “And then we caught up again, and we ended up losing the game.”
For someone who has won 18 titles in the pro league, including a pair of Grand Slams, Cone stressed the All-Star game doesn’t give a student of the game the opportunity to coach.
“Other part about coaching in the All-Star game is that you really don’t coach it. You’re just like a figure head standing there. And you say, 'Okay you go in, go in there,' and hope you’re picking the right people. So it’s not true coaching,” said the American mentor out of George Washington University.
“Coaching is all about practice. Coaching is all about the teachings you do. And in an All-Star game, you don’t get the chance to do any of that.”
In retrospect, Cone said it doesn’t bother him not coaching the event after all.
“In terms of coaching the All-Star game, I don’t miss coaching in the All-Star game,” he admitted. “But I do miss being around with the guys and all the stuff that goes around there.”