Tim Cone returned as assistant coach for Gilas Pilipinas, believing that Fajardo and Wright could be pieces for Gilas Worlds in the FIBA World Cup. Cone was welcomed by the roster for the fourth window of FIBA qualifiers.
The Nationals; Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto, split their games as they bowed to Lebanon with an 81-85 defeat in Beirut before getting an 84-46 win over Saudi Arabia – home court.
Cone continued to speak highly about the present squad and shared how the addition of more versatile and athletic players has benefited the team on both ends.
For Cone, the most impressive thing about the team they have put up this time is their athleticism from point guard to big man, as all of them are athletes.
Scottie Thompson and Chris Newsome both have good size as point guards which can defend up and many times these people have been great players.
In the past years, Gilas had the frills of having solid playmakers with the likes of Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio staffing the background.
However, Cone bared that the size of the players their current group have given, gave the team a different benefit as it allowed them to keep in step with the floor generals of the opposite teams.
Having a scorer like Clarkson on board also gave the team additional lift as they had someone who can take most of the load on offense and create scoring opportunities.
In the two games played, the 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year averaged 25.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds in 32.7 minutes in action.
With Clarkson on the floor, Cone also shared how the other players needed to step up, especially on the defensive side in order for them to make things work.
The veteran coach also commended Coach Reyes when he puts everything up. Yet, Cone still believes that they could have benefited from having a couple more years at their disposal.
June Mar Jafardo was poised to play a crucial role in this window, especially against the Lebanon team that has its tallest player listed at 6-foot-9. The six-time PBA MVP was originally part of the 24-man pool for the fourth window apparently, but was not able to gear up for Gilas Pilipinas as the San Miguel Beermen advanced to the Finals of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup.
As per Cone, having June Mar on the Gilas floor, it would have given the team a definite post presence that we could have gone to. He also believes that there is no one in the Lebanon team that could have handled June Mar down low. Definitely a game changer for Gilas Pilipinas.
Matthew Wright on the other hand, is a wingman who can space the floor and shoot from long distance. He could have been an added boost for Gilas. In fact, Wright was one of the names being considered but was unavailable to play for Gilas in the fourth window.
With the 2023 FIBA World Cup looming on the horizon, Cone pointed out that they will continue to look for pieces that can improve and compliment the core team that they are expecting.
The next two windows set to be staged in November and February that can give the coaches a good glimpse of who to include on the final roster, a year from now.