Gilas Pilipinas knows that it needs to go to the 2023 Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup armed to the teeth—with no shortcuts.
“Like I’ve said, we’re here to build the best team possible. Not only the players but with the coaching staff,” program director Chot Reyes said Tuesday night after announcing the appointment of the decorated Tim Cone as his chief deputy for the global showcase in August next year which the country will cohost with Indonesia and Japan.
The decision to ask for Cone from the rival San Miguel Corp. (SMC) bloc in the PBA was an easy one, as Reyes reflected on the Philippines’ noteworthy performance in Spain in the 2014 edition of the event where the Filipinos managed to gut out a classification round win, which came at the expense of Senegal.
“When we prepared the team in 2013 for the World Cup in 2014, we got Tab Baldwin, Natxo Lezcano, we got Norman Black with a very strong staff,” Reyes explained after also receiving his record sixth Coach of the Year award from the PBA Press Corps.
“And I think that’s one of the secrets to our performance in that World Cup. So we’re just doing the same here,” he added. “It’s only fitting for him to be there,” Reyes told the Inquirer. “I mean, he’s the winningest coach in PBA history. He has to be in the team that goes to battle in a World Cup.”
Also joining Reyes’ staff are Goldwin Monteverde, Jong Uichico and Nenad Vucinic.
The development comes on the heels of a meeting held between the leaders of the two ruling power blocs in the PBA, which was reportedly arranged by SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua.
“When I talked to the PBA Governors, they all agreed to lend everyone—even our ball boys if Gilas needed them. But they asked for Tim,” Chua said with a chuckle. “But yes, whoever they need, for 2023, [San Miguel is all for it]. The whole country will be watching.”
“For me, it’s like a book was opened. That’s really the way I see things now. So we’ll see what’s going to happen,” Chua told the Inquirer.
The Barangay Ginebra team governor, who was also named Executive of the Year that night, said that Cone will begin serving the national team when preparations for the event kick into high gear.
Though he thinks Cone’s tapping will have no complications over at the Gin Kings’ side, Chua said he is also expecting Reyes to make adjustments should a need for that arises.
“[Tim] cannot [do things] with the PBA ongoing. But really, in 2023, the PBA will go on a break. [Chot and Tim] have to talk to sort things out,” Chua said
Cone, who has done two tours for the Philippine Team, refused to comment before the Kings’ clash with NLEX on Wednesday night at Mall of Asia Arena.
He promised to talk about it—and his inclusion to the Miami Heat Summer League team in the NBA as an assistant—at press time.
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