As PBA finals loom, Cone credits Lastimosa for start of legendary coaching career

Apr 4, 2023

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FRIENDS TURNED FOES. Tim Cone and Jojo Lastimosa go up against each other after decades of winning together.

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Tim Cone faces former player Jojo Lastimosa in a coaching battle as Barangay Ginebra looks to defend its PBA Governors’ Cup throne against TNT

MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone owes a great deal of his coaching success to Jojo Lastimosa.

But Cone is setting aside his decades-long relationship with his former ward as Barangay Ginebra looks to defend its PBA Governors’ Cup throne against Lastimosa and TNT in a best-of-seven championship duel starting on Sunday, April 9.

“My career started from Jojo. Hopefully, his career does not start from me,” Cone said during the finals press conference at Novotel Manila on Monday, April 3.

Before Cone became the winningest coach in PBA history with 25 crowns, titles proved elusive throughout his first two years in the league.

Cone guided Alaska to its maiden finals appearance in the 1990 Third Conference, but they blew a 2-0 lead to Purefoods in a best-of-five clash that saw Lastimosa capture his first championship as a player.

The Aces’ fortunes changed when they acquired Lastimosa from the Hotdogs through a trade in 1991, the same year that Cone steered the franchise to its breakthrough title as they ruled the Third Conference.

“Getting Jojo changed the whole culture of our team back then. We were desperate for our first championship at Alaska as an organization,” Cone said.

“It was not until we got Jo that we were able to get there and actually win, and it was an organizational total culture change. He was always the leader of that team.”

Lastimosa won nine of his 10 titles as a player under Cone as Alaska dominated the 1990s, even completing a rare Grand Slam – a feat accomplished just five times in PBA history – in 1996.

After Lastimosa retired in 2002, he joined the Aces’ coaching staff from 2006 to 2013 and helped Cone win three championships as an assistant.

“He has led all the way through those years and now he is the leader of his team at this point,” Cone said.

“If we did not trade for Jojo, I can honestly say I would not be sitting here at this point. That is the impact he had on my career as a coach. You meet special players every once in a while and Jojo is one of them.”

As grateful as he is, though, Cone faces the daunting task of denying Lastimosa what his old hand helped him achieve.

Lastimosa, filling in for Chot Reyes this conference, seeks his first PBA title as a head coach, which would also be the first of the Tropang Giga in the Governors’ Cup.

“Going up head-to-head with him is going to be difficult,” said Cone. “He knows me like the back of his hand.” –

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