JAMES Yap and Co. have become so very dear to Tim Cone that he found it emotionally difficult to leave Star and take the coaching job of Barangay Ginebra.
The American mentor admitted the years spent together through thick and thin had strengthened the bond among the Hotshots that he has learned to treat them as his very own children.
And so it was hard for a father having to leave his family behind, according to the most accomplished coach in the history of the PBA.
“I treated them like a son. As a father you have a kind of on-again, off-again relationship with your children, they get mad at you, you get mad at them,” said a smiling Cone on Thursday when his appointment as coach of the league’s most popular ballclub was finally made official.
“I will always be very proud of that group.”
In his four years coaching the Purefoods franchise, Cone steered the Hotshots to six trips to the Finals and won five championships, including four straight and a first-ever grand slam in 2014.
“We went through a lot. Every time you go through adversities you become that much closer, you become a tight-knit group. And that’s really the hardest part. Honestly, my initial reaction was I don’t want to go, not because I’m not excited about Ginebra, but because I just didn’t want to leave my guys,” said the 57-year-old Cone.