While the NBA lockout continues to show no signs of ceasing up, the local basketball scene has continued to capture the attention of Filipino basketball fans. After some Draft Day surprises with major shake ups in some PBA teams’ rosters and the entry of the highly-touted Smart-Gilas stars, the coaching staffs followed the lead. Rumors about major changes in the coaching staffs of some squads spread like wildfire, causing some guessing games on social networking sites and forums. It turned out the rumors packed a lot of credibility.
Barako Bull (former Air21) acquired the services of multi-titled amateur coach Junel Baculi; Ginebra announced they promoted Siot Tanquincen to the head-coaching position, sharing the post with coach Jong Uichico (which I really don’t think will last); and then B-Meg replaced coach Jorge Gallent with former assistant coach Richard Del Rosario. But anyone privy to the Philippine basketball circles, knew there was a bigger news waiting to be revealed. And the Alaska Aces management didn’t want to prolong the guessing game.
After 22 years of tenure in the Alaska franchise, leading the Fred Uytengsu team to 13 titles including the precious Grand Slam feat in the 90’s, the decorated coach who introduced the beauty of triangle offense into the league realized he wasn’t really going to end his career with the team – at least for the moment.
Coach Time Cone decided he “needed a new challenge.”
While I believe there is more than just looking for “new challenge” behind Cone’s departure from a team that has been the catalyst of his metamorphosis into the coaching great he is right now, I think he has more than earned the right of coming up with this decision.
Cone has proved his loyalty and affection for the team. If two decades of sticking it up with a single team through the ups and downs isn’t loyalty, then I don’t know what it is. Maybe it wouldn’t be too much of a luxury for the Alaska franchise to fittingly hand a deserving man an opportunity to explore new horizons now that he is nearing the twilight of his illustrious career. And team owner Fred Uytengsu’s acceptance of Cone’s resignation despite a live contract until 2013 is a testament of Tim Cone’s true worth on their franchise and of the solid bond they have developed throughout the years.
It will be a difficult pill to swallow for the Alaska fans, coaching staff, management, and especially the players. Alaska has seen great players in the likes of Johnny Abbarientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins, and Willie Miller flourish on their team only to get traded along the way. But none of those compares to this parting. Cone has been the face and the main pillar of the franchise. Perhaps everybody expected to see Cone retire with the team. But I guess not all love story really ends on a happy ending.
But who knows, this change might have been the spark Alaska needed to start bringing back their glory days. Maybe Cone knew it all along that he didn’t have the same urge to take this team to the top anymore. As what Steve Jobs said, it’s impossible to connect the dots looking forward. When we look back to this moment in the future, we’ll most probably have a better understanding of it all.
For now, ironic as it may seem to me (I’m a Ginebra fan btw), let me dedicate my first post here in paying tribute to one great coach and to the greatest story of loyalty and excellence in Philippine basketball.
Good luck Alaska Aces and coach Tim Cone!