Cone establishes the groundwork for Gilas’ long-range plan

Feb 21, 2024

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Expectations for the Gilas Pilipinas squad participating in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in 2025 are being moderated by TIM Cone.

First and foremost, it lost the height advantage before even facing Hong Kong in its opening game on Thursday. Both rookie big man AJ Edu and seven-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo are recovering from injuries and won’t be available to play during the tournament’s first window, which runs from February 22 to 25.

Second, it is a completely different squad than the one that took home the historic gold medal from the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, the previous year.

Cone, however, is pleased with the makeup of this new group of Gilas, whose nucleus sets the stage for upcoming national teams.

With the 6-foot-10 San Miguel standout out due to injury, the coach as well as his coaching staff will only have an 11-man squad against the team that plays at home. Veteran Japeth Aguilar was added late in the season to fill the slot.

Aguilar joined the squad on Wednesday following his wife’s delivery of their second kid. The team departed for Hong Kong on Tuesday.

However, the Gilas coach maintains that injuries and everything else are just a part of the sport.

“You have those types of things that happen all the time. You have to roll through the knocks and proceed with dealing without this,” Cone stated. “This is a squad that we plan to stick together, even though it will inevitably have problems. That’s what I enjoy about it. It doesn’t constitute an All-Star team.

“Our troops are not going to win each match, and and we’re going to drop a couple of matches along the way, nevertheless as long that we continue to compete, as long as we keep contending for the top spots throughout those windows as well as such, then we’ll be acquiring knowledge alongside the way as we go.”

Gilas leaves Hong Kong behind and returns to the nation over the weekend to get ready for its Sunday Philsports Arena matchup against Chinese Taipei.

Meanwhile, the Leading MVP Derby is Fajardo

With the recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup victory, he and the Beermen enjoyed, SAN Miguel Beer giant June Mar Fajardo is currently leading the race for the prestigious Season 48 Most Valuable Player award.

The 48th season calendar is halfway through, and the seven-time MVP set the pace with 40.9 average statistical points based on significant statistics in points (16.2), rebounds (league-best 12.0), and blocks (season-high 2.3) with 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals.

Christian Standhardinger of Ginebra and CJ Perez, who has just been named Best Player of the Conference and Finals MVP at SMB, are chasing “The Kraken.”

Standhardinger, who averaged 16.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 5.0 assists, is in second place with 35.7 points, closely followed by Perez, who in his breakout conference recorded averages of 16.9 points, 6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.3 steals, with 35.4 points.

Calvin Oftana of TNT (21.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game) is ranked fifth with 34.1 SPs, behind NorthPort’s Arvin Tolentino (22.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game), who leads the league in local scoring.

Sixth through tenth place are held by Ginebra’s Maverick Ahanmisi (27.60) and Jamie Malonzo (27.58), Meralco’s Chris Newsome (28.5), Jio Jalalon of Magnolia, the runner-up (28.14), and Ginebra’s MVP Scottie Thompson (31 SPs).

Jason Perkins of semifinalist Phoenix(27.5), Javi Gomez de Liano of Terrafirma(27.1), Mark Barroca of Magnolia(26.8), Juami Tiongson of Terrafirma(26.6), and Cliff Hodge of Meralco(24.8) are just outside the Top 10.

While he sits 20th in the MVP race, Dyip’s first-round selection Stephen Holt is leading the race for Rookie of the Year with 24 SPs.

Through statistics of 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, as well as 4.5 contributions and Holt outscores players like Ken Tuffin (20.1) of Phoenix, Fran Yu (15.8) of NorthPort, Christian David (14.3) of Blackwater, and teammate Dyip Kemark Carino (16.1).

Kim Aurin (13.0), Ricci Rivero (13.3) of Phoenix, Henry Galinato Jr. (13.7) of TNT, and Brent Paraiso (12.8) of NorthPort complete the Top 10. (OL)

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