DAVAO – Tim Cone sets aside solving Barangay Ginebra’s frustrations for now as he takes on a lighter role as coach of the Mindanao All-Star team that will play Gilas Pilipinas in the first leg of the PBA All-Star week in Digos City on Wednesday night.
More than taking his mind off the Commissioner’s Cup where the Gin Kings are mired near the bottom at 1-3, the league’s most successful coach is looking forward to his reunion with former Alaska and Purefoods players in PJ Simon, Mark Barroca, Rafi Reavis, Sonny Thoss, and Cyrus Baguio.
“It’s always fun coaching All-Star games,” Cone said on the eve of the showcase. “There’s not a whole lot of pressure because people are more concerned about having fun and putting a show than they are about winning.”
“It’s also especially fun for me because I got a lot of guys that I used to coach…that are here that I’m going to have a chance to coach again, so that’s exciting,” he added.
The tradeoff of the reunion, however, is it will leave Cone with a diminutive lineup compared to that of the national team, also known as the Smart All-Stars, anchored by June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar.
“We’re going to really be small, so that’s really different for me,” said Cone, who’s used to handling towering lineups. “So it’s going to be fun to see what we can do, see some of the things we can do differently than what we normally do.”
“All those things kind of come into the All-Star game: there’s no pressure, but you do want to put on a good show, and you want to make the game close, and make sure we have entertained fans, give the players a chance to showcase their skills,” he added.
So will he just let them play or will they run the triangle for old time’s sake?
“Richard and I are talking about it, we can put five triangle guys out there,” Cone said, referring to his top Gin Kings deputy, Richard dela Rosario. “Mark and PJ, and Rafi, and Sonny Thoss, and Cyrus. They all could run the triangle. Whether we do that or not, I don’t know.”
“But right now, we’re just trying to figure out how to play Mac Belo at center, and Scottie Thompson at power forward,” he added with a smile. “PJ will be our small forward, Mark will probably be our off guard, and Jio will be our point guard, then we’ll try to figure out how to guard June Mar and Japeth, and (Gabe) Norwood, and all that.”
“We’ll have some fun out there. We’ll put out some trickery out there, and see what we can do,” he ended.