We can’t afford to be complacent
By Al S. Mendoza
NEW YORK CITY—I got wind of Tim Cone being appointed coach of the Philippine basketball team to the SEA Games in Manila that begins November 30.
As an offshoot to this, our basketball team is already being formed in earnest. Good.
It is among the first of Philippine squads to be treated differently for just one simple reason: Basketball is the national sport.
It’s just right that it is being showered with extra care, undivided attention even, so as to ensure its victory.
But success for our cagers is definitely believably achievable.
Especially now that the chief target is to build an all-professional crew for the regional meet.
Indeed, we can’t afford to be complacent.
Overconfidence has always been the chief cause of sporting disasters.
We know we’ve been No. 1 in Asean basketball for the longest time.
Only once did we lose the basketball gold in the SEA Games.
Was it in 1977, when Malaysia scored a stunning win that was quickly labeled as a monumental upset?
But that happened because we didn’t field our best then.
After that bitter lesson, we’ve sent only the best virtually each time the biennial meet came along.
And what could be considered the cream of the crop but those coming from the Philippine Basketball Association?
Thus, this year again, we’re not only assembling the best and the brightest.
Even the coach himself is the best of the best.
Who can question Cone’s credentials?
He is currently the winningest coach of the PBA, surpassing the record of the late Baby Dalupan.
That alone makes him the hands-down choice to coach our SEA Games quintet.
And then how about this?
Cone happens to be the first and only two-time winner of the PBA Grand Slam.
Cone achieved those remarkable feats for Alaska in 1996 and for San Mig Coffee in 2014.
His twin Slams made him surge past single Slam winners Baby Dalupan in 1976 for Crispa, Tommy Manotoc in 1983 for Crispa and Norman Black in 1989 for San Miguel Beer.
On his first day in his new job as our SEA Games coach, Cone promptly dismissed upstarts CJ Perez and Robert Bolick. Shocking?
“I don’t have time to teach newcomers,” said Cone.
Even as Perez and Bolick could easily fit into the team, considering they shone in the last Fiba World Cup in China, Cone said he did it, saying he was not taking chances.
“I only have virtually eight weeks to prepare my team,” Cone said. “I need veterans to do the job.”
I do not fully agree with him but then, since he is the coach, then he is the boss, too.
Reports say some countries in the 11-nation Games are beefing up their lineups with naturalized players, mostly Americans.
That could pose serious problems for us.
Can Cone rise up to the challenge?
Cone’s credentials built through time will be put to an acid test.
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