FOR someone who has seen and stood by Tim Cone for more than a decade, Luigi Trillo should have been the last person to be surprised by any stunt the American coach tried to pull off.
But on this Tuesday afternoon at the Reyes gym in Mandaluyong, the young Alaska mentor admitted he was still stunned when his longtime mentor decided to call off the San Mig Coffee Mixers' exhibition game against the Trillo-mentored Aces in mid-match.
“Nagulat ako sa nangyari because coach Tim just approached us and shook our hands," said Trillo, who took over the Alaska coaching reins last season from Joel Banal who, in turn, inherited the position after Cone left the Aces to join B-Meg (now San Mig Coffee).
The cause of Cone’s ire was an elbow foul called against San Mig's Jerwin Gaco on Eddie Laure, which the American coach vehemently protested with 1:21 to go in the third period and Alaska leading, 63-50.
Earlier reports said Gaco was ejected from the game, but Trillo clarified Gaco was only called for a flagrant foul 1.
“He was not thrown out. It was just an F1 which meant he’ll be taken out of the game for the next three minutes. But Jerwin Gaco clearly landed an elbow on Eddie,” Trillo told Spin.ph.
The call didn’t sit well with Cone - architect of Alaska’s 13 PBA championships, including a rare Grand Slam in 1996- who decided not to push through with the rest of the match.
Cone has since apologized for the incident over Twitter, claiming it was not the call but fear for the welfare of his players that prompted him to call the match off.
Trillo, however, said he had no problems with the incident. “Everything is part of the game. Different strokes for different folks. We understand and respect coach Tim and the San Miguel organization,” he said.
Trillo also downplayed the win -- the Aces’ second in as many games in the offseason, stressing the Mixers played without five key players, including the injured pair of Joe Devance and JC Intal.
“You have to understand that these guys (Mixers) are incomplete and playing, I believe, their first tune up game,” he said. “But I thought we were playing very well. Ganadong-ganado kami, because for us, these practice games are very important.”