SAN Mig coach Tim Cone has shot down the notion that he isn't too fond of rookie players.
Cone reminded those who care to listen that records will bear out how he has relied on rookie players in his two-year stint with the Mixers and even during his tenure with Alaska.
The American coach made this clear after the Mixers tapped four new freshmen in the last PBA draft.
“I don’t know why people keep saying that I don’t rely on rookies. Alex Mallari was a rookie and he started the last two conferences for us and we won a championship with him,” Cone stressed.
The multi-titled coach also pointed out that guard Mark Barroca also got quality minutes under his system when the former Far Eastern University stalwart was a rookie at San Mig in 2011.
“It’s really up to the rookie. When Mike Cortez came in, we made him an immediate starter at Alaska. These guys (rookies) gotta earn their way through,” he added.
Cone said he has high hopes for San Mig Coffee’s rookie quartet led by No. 2 overall pick Ian Sangalang.
Cone likewise praised the athleticism of freshman guard Justin Melton, who wowed the crowd which showed up at the team’s first ever practice Monday afternoon.
“Justin pretty much is ready to play right now. He just has to learn the system a little bit better, what we do offensively and defensively. I am very, very pleased with him,” he said of the immense athleticism showed by the Mixers’ 13th overall pick in the last draft.
Cone also believes 6-foot-7 Isaac Holstein needs a little more time before becoming a force to be reckoned with, while 30th pick JR Cawaling, initially given a one conference contract, is seen to fill the vacuum left by injured star Allein Maliksi.
“All of them have potential to come out and help us. They can be good contributors,” said the grand slam-winning coach.
San Mig Coffee team governor Rene Pardo meanwhile, said he’s pleased with what the team had gotten in the last draft.
“Ako masaya ako sa mga rookies namin, although, ngayon pa lang talaga kami nag-practice together. I am happy with what I am seeing sa kanila. Nakaka-adjust naman sila sa triangle offense ng team,” said Pardo.
“Happy kami sa nakuha naming apat. Looks like, we’ll keep all of them and by the looks of it, they might all be part of the lineup,” said Pardo, who has already put Lester Alvarez and Maliksi (ACL injury) in the reserved list.
But the amiable team official has one piece of advice to the team’s newcomers.
“You have to earn your spot in the lineup. You have to step it up. Hindi pwedeng pabandying-bandying dyan.”