Rooting for the newly-formed Men’s Basketball Team is the man who last steered the Philippines to a podium finish in the Asian Games.
Tim Cone was the head coach of the Men’s squad, then known as the Centennial Team, that captured the bronze medal in the 1998 Asian Games held in Thailand. Composed of players from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the Centennial Team’s third place finish in Bangkok has yet to be surpassed by succeeding men’s teams after four editions of the quadrennial meet.
In an interview with FOX Sports Philippines, Cone affirmed his support for the National Team, set to be handled by his coaching rival and buddy Yeng Guiao in the upcoming Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games basketball tournament. The 21-time PBA champion coach vouched for the appointment of Guiao to the head coaching post, in spite of the short period of preparation for the 18th Asian Games.
“First of all, I think Coach Yeng Guiao was really a good choice. His system has great beauty and simplicity. He keeps it very simple but he demands great execution. It won’t need a very complex system that they’ll need to adapt to. He is great keeping things very simple and communicates it very well,” said Cone.
With a team made up with the core of the Rain or Shine Elasto painters, Guiao only had a week to ready the national team for the Asian Games. But with the complement of enlisting PBA standouts who have played for Guiao in the past, Cone believes that familiarity offsets the shortened preparation time.
“I think they’ll be a lot more prepared than people think. Plus, he has a core of players that have played for him in the past who have ran that same system.”
The top two teams out of the four brackets shall advance to the final round of the 14-nation joust. Bracketed in Group D, the Philippines takes on China and Kazakhstan in preliminary round action. Making it past the group stages sets up a knockout quarterfinals clash with the top two teams of Group A, made up of South Korea, Mongolia, Thailand, and host Indonesia.
For the current Ginebra San Miguel mentor, the key to a podium finish for the Philippines hinges on surviving the tough group stage against perennial powerhouse China and the continuously improving Kazakhstan side. In the 1998 Asian Games, the Philippines defeated Kazakhstan, 73-68, to secure the bronze medal. China emerged as kings of the 1998 Asian Games, with a 112-92 drubbing of South Korea in the gold medal match.
An ardent observer of the Asian basketball scene, Cone is well-aware of the challenges that await the Philippine quintet in Jakarta.
“It’s certainly not gonna be a walk in the park. I know that Kazakhstan always improves. In the Asian Games or FIBA, they come back and they’re better than the year before. They have great access to the Russian and other European teams and they’re mostly Europeans themselves. They’re very hard to scout,” Cone said.
“I heard Yeng Guiao compared them to the Australians. They play a game very similar to Australia and New Zealand. Then you have China in your bracket. If the national team can get out of that bracket, we will have a really good chance to win a medal.”
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