The head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas men is Tim Cone

Jan 31, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has announced the appointment of legendary PBA coach Tim Cone as the new head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team.

Cone takes over after a successful stint leading the Philippine team to a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games, ending the country’s 61-year drought in men’s basketball. With his proven track record and championship pedigree, Cone has been tasked with spearheading the Gilas program heading into upcoming international tournaments.

“Coach Tim accomplished what has not been done in decades with only a few weeks to prepare and multiple challenges in terms of personnel so we’re excited to see what he can accomplish with a long-term program in place especially if such a program is supported by all basketball stakeholders,” said SBP President Al Panlilio.

First up for Cone will be preparing the Philippine squad for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers next month. Gilas is set to battle Hong Kong on February 22 and Chinese Taipei on February 25. The team will also compete in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament from July 2-7 in Latvia.

“Earlier this month, coach Tim presented his plans to local leagues from which players will likely be selected from. This program will be put to test this year and adjustments will be made as necessary,” added SBP Executive Director Erika Dy.

The signing of Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history with 25 championships and 2 Grand Slams, represents a major coup for the national team. His winning pedigree and basketball acumen are unmatched, making him the ideal choice to lead Gilas moving forward.

This will be the 63-year-old mentor’s fourth stint at the helm of the Philippine squad. Aside from steering the Asian Games gold run, he previously coached the legendary Centennial Team that captured bronze at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. He also led Gilas to a gold medal at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

“I’m looking forward to taking on the role of national team head coach again,” Cone said. “I’ve always firmly believed from back in 1998 when I coached the Centennial Team that you’ve got to go out and get the best players in the country to represent us. We all have different opinions on who the best players are but we’re confident we picked the best players who will form the best team.”

To that end, Cone has selected a 12-man pool of players that will form the core of Gilas moving forward. The local PBA talents include Scottie Thompson, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo, and June Mar Fajardo.

Japanese B-League imports Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, Carl Tamayo, and Kai Sotto will provide a major boost, while UAAP standouts Kevin Quiambao and naturalized player Justin Brownlee complete the roster. Brownlee’s eligibility for upcoming tournaments is pending FIBA’s approval.

Cone’s first challenges will be the February window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers against Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. With a fully homegrown PBA selection unlikely to be available, Cone will need to integrate the Japan imports quickly into his system.

In the long term, his goal will be building team chemistry and continuity heading into the Olympic qualifying tournament and the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Without a full-time national team, Cone will need to make the most of limited windows with his top players.

Making use of versatile two-way talents like Ramos, Edu, and Quiambao will be key, as will unleashing the dominant interior presence of June Mar Fajardo. Cone will look to play to the strengths of veterans like Thompson and Newsome while continuing the development of young guns like Oftana, Perez, and Malonzo.

Of course, the centerpiece will be towering prodigy Kai Sotto, who will be counted on to provide interior defense and rebounding as well as an inside scoring presence. If Sotto can realize his potential under Cone’s tutelage, it could take Gilas to new heights.

Assisting Cone will be team manager Richard Del Rosario, who will handle logistics and operations. With Del Rosario’s experience and Cone’s extraordinary basketball IQ at the helm, Gilas finally has the leadership tandem it needs to achieve success.

After years of disappointing results, the SBP has made its biggest investment yet in the Gilas program by handing the reigns to the most decorated coach in PBA history. Tim Cone now has the opportunity to work his championship magic for the Philippine national team.

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