MANILA, Philippines–Tim Cone said that if Chot Reyes leaves the Gilas Pilipinas program, he will be out of the picture as well.
But a message from no less than San Miguel Corporation’s top executive Ramon Ang convinced him otherwise.
“When the big boss calls, what you want isn’t always what you get,” Cone told reporters with a chuckle shortly after a lengthy press conference on Thursday that announced him as Gilas Pilipinas’ interim head coach for the 19th Asian Games.
Cone said he and Reyes go a long way back—their collaboration spanning teams and decades—but succeeding him as the coach of the national team was the last thing on his mind.
“He was my assistant in Alaska, he was my assistant in the Asian Games and I was his assistant through the mid-2000s when we went to Vegas to train. I had to leave to focus on Alaska. Then I was his assistant,” Cone said of Reyes.
“And that’s one thing I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to follow him as a head coach. I was very adamant about it.”
Cone told the country’s basketball leaders that he will be coaching only as a stop-gap measure.
“I made it clear to everyone that this is really an interim job,” the decorated PBA coach said. “I did it in the  Southeast Asian Games … That’s my job. I mean that’s why I’m in the PBA—to be available, and do stuff like this, to help things out.”
“I’m just here to help as much as I can through these next four weeks and then that will hopefully give the (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) time to sit down and, like Al Panlilio said, review everything and set a course for the program, whether who the leader’s gonna be and how they’d proceed.”
25 years after
Interestingly, his appointment comes 25 years after the last time he coached in the Asian Games. Cone led a pro-laden squad to a bronze medal finish in the 1998 edition of the games held in Bangkok, Thailand.
Cone said that he would serve as a steward until the basketball leaders are able to put together a program geared towards the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. And just like Reyes, he believes that Gilas already has enough pieces from which it can build for when it tries to shoot for another Paris berth—and even beyond.
“Chot and I were sitting around before we beat China (in the World Cup). We were saying, look you got Rhenz (Abando) who’s 25, Dwight (Ramos) who just turned 25 that day we beat China. We got (AJ) Edu who’s 23, Kai (Sotto) who’s 21,” he said while shaking his head.
“I mean you got your off-guard, your small forward, your power forward and center—all right there—four who can continually build that program up. It’s gonna be exciting with those guys. Sayang we couldn’t get them here,” he said.
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