ALASKA Milk coach Luigi Trillo hit out at Tim Cone on Monday, accusing his former mentor of "power-tripping" and disrespecting him in the aftermath of a bench-clearing scuffle that marred the Aces' tune-up match with San Mig Coffee on Saturday afternoon.
Trillo and Cone, witnesses said, nearly went at each other near the end of a heated match at The Arena in San Juan that came to a head when Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva tagged San Mig rookie Alex Mallari with a foul, triggering a fracas that emptied both benches.
San Mig's Joe DeVance retaliated by shoving Abueva to the floor, and later claimed the Aces' rookie was out to deliberately hurt Mallari during the play (For full story, see Bench-clearing scuffle, Trillo-Cone spat mar tune-up between Alaska, San Mig)
Trillo, however, said it was wrong to pin the blame on Abueva.
“Calvin drove, nawala yung bola sa kanya. And as Mallari went for the fastbreak, Calvin gave him a duty foul … which is part of basketball,” said Trillo, a longtime assistant of Cone at Alaska until the American coach moved to the San Miguel group two years ago.
But what Trillo resented were the actions of Cone, who he claimed - contrary to the account of witnesses - walked toward the Alaska bench and started shouting at him.
“Itong si Tim, sumugod sa akin. Contrary to what Joe (DeVance) said that’s not what happened. I never approached Tim to confront him. It was Tim who walked toward me and had words,” the youthful Alaska coach said.
“I am not gonna back down for my team. There’s a certain sense of respect (among coaches), if you cross that line and you embarass a counter coach, I had to take a stand,” he added.
The former De La Salle Archer claimed it wasn’t the first time Cone treated him with little respect in a game, saying there were times when Cone would cross the halfcourt line and shout at him in front of his team.
Trillo said he simply got fed up.
“I don’t think it's right that he comes up and tells us off in a degrading way,” said Trillo. “Sinagot ko siya because he degraded me as a coach."
"So I told him, ‘If it was Yeng Guiao or Alfrancis (Chua) or Norman (Black on the opposing bench), would he do that (yanking)? That’s power-tripping.”
“And Tim should know that he can’t do that to me. He was grandstanding!”
Trillo said the incident marked the third time in the last two conferences that Cone disrespected him and Alaska, a team Cone coached to 13 PBA titles and a rare Grand Slam.
The first was when the San Mig coach walked out of their scrimmage prior to the Commissioner’s Cup and the second incident happened during the two teams' semifinal showdown in the same conference when Trillo claimed Cone shouted at the Aces bench during a game.
“He did it again for the third time in this tune-up … I won’t allow a fourth time,” said the son of retiring Alaska governor Joaqui Trillo.
Asked if he has lost respect for his former mentor, Trillo replied: “I expected him to do things with better taste, not in a degrading, confrontational way. He was very reactive."