IN just a single season, Tim Cone did two special feats that set him apart from the pantheon of great Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) coaches.
The 57-year-old mentor became the most accomplished in the 40-year history of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league after surpassing the long-time record of the ‘Maestro, the great Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan, and went down as the only coach to win a Grand Slam with two different teams.
The remarkable exploit certainly deserves major consideration and the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) won’t deny Cone of his moment as he will be accorded with the honor Excellence in Basketball during its Annual Awards Night presented by MILO on February 16.
The champion coach is among the handful of awardees who excelled in the year just passed to be recognized by the country’s oldest media organization in formal rite which has the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as major partner, and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Accel, Globalport, and Rain or Shine as traditional backers.
The 1973 Philippine men’s team that won the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship in Manila has earlier been announced as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“It’s only fitting for the PSA to recognize Tim Cone with the Excellence in Basketball honor following the outstanding achievement he did in a memorable PBA season,” said PSA president Jun Lomibao of the Business Mirror.
Cone distinguished himself as the winningest coach in the country’s pro league with 18 titles after steering San Mig Coffee to a rare Grand Slam last year.
The season sweep was the first in 18 years in the PBA since Cone himself became the last man to guide a team to a Grand Slam with Alaska in 1996.
The former national team mentor opened the league’s 39th season by guiding the Mixers to the Philippine Cup championship at the expense of Rain or Shine for title no. 16, topping the old-time record of 15 previously held by Dalupan.
He later added the Commissioner’s Cup crown by beating Talk `N Text, before overcoming Rain or Shine in the season-ending Governors Cup for the crowning glory of a truly outstanding season for him and the Mixers.
Cone was later named by the PBA Press Corps as the hands-down choice for Coach of the Year, a title he already won twice in the past.
Still being deliberated by the PSA is the prestigious Athlete of the Year award being contested by cycling’s Daniel Caluag, Donnie Nietes of professional boxing, and Gabriel Moreno of archery.