TIM Cone doesn’t want to make the same mistake of passing up on a future superstar when the PBA holds its annual rookie draft on Sunday at Robinsons Place Manila.
Barangay Ginebra owns the No. 5 selection and the new Gin Kings coach hopes to make the right decision on who to select among five players he listed – although he didn’t mention their names – who are worthy for the pick.
“The problem is, you’re going to take one and you’re going to miss out on the other four, and what happens if one of those other four becomes a superstar?” Cone said. “You’re like, ‘sayang.’”
“You don’t want to pass up on a (future) superstar,” he added. “We did that with Jimmy Alapag.”
Cone particularly cited a dilemma in the 2003 Draft when the league’s most successful coach, then at the helm of Alaska, debated on picking between Mike Cortez and Alapag for the No.1 pick.
The Aces eventually picked Cortez as Cone explained the 6-foot, former La Salle star was taller than the 5-foot-10 Alapag and had more exposure compared to the latter.
“We took Mike primarily because he was a little bigger and he had played here and we saw a lot of him and knew him, and Jimmy just came over and played a couple of games and hurt his hand,” Cone recalled. “We didn’t really see Jimmy as much as we wanted to.”
The Aces still had the chance to select Alapag as they also owned the No. 5 pick, but instead selected Brandon Cablay.
“We said we already got a point guard and we don’t want to get another one, so we went for more of a combo guard in Brandon Cablay,” Cone explained.
Alapag dropped all the way to No. 10, a pick coincidentally traded by Alaska to Talk ‘N Text for Don Camaso.
Alapag, as it turned out, went on to have a distinguished pro and international career, and has recently come out of retirement for another go-around.
“Now we’re a little smarter,” said Cone, whose team also owns the 16th pick. “Hope we learn from our mistake.”
Cone said the Kings need wingmen, having only two players at the position in the fold of Chris Ellis and Mac Baracael.
“Triangle is a wing-oriented system. We’re not a point guard-centric system,” Cone said.
Ginebra has a plethora of playmakers in the roster right now in LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, Jayjay Helterbrand, Emman Monfort, Josh Urbiztondo, and Jens Knuttel.
“We don’t necessarily ignore point guards, but I’ve got six of them on my team right now and that’s obviously a position we won’t look for,” Cone said.
“But you never know. If Johnny Abarrientos came in the draft and you have like five point guards, you’d still draft Johnny and just get rid of the other five,” he was quick to add with a chuckle.
“Nothing’s written in stone, but we’re going to emphasize the other positions because that’s more of the need.”