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Tim Cone joins PH team coaching staff

(Left) Chot Reyes and Tim Cone FILE PHOTOS

(Left) Chot Reyes and Tim Cone FILE PHOTOS

JUST like old times, TNT coach Chot Reyes and Ginebra coach Tim Cone will be working together to steer the Philippine men's basketball team in the 2023 World Cup, where the country is co-hosting the event with Japan and Indonesia.

Reyes, head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas program, bared this after he received his sixth Coach of the Year award from the PBA Press Corps on Tuesday night.

“I'm here to form the strongest team possible,” Reyes said. “Not only the players, but also the coaching staff. When we prepared the team in 2013 for the World Cup in 2014, we got Tab Baldwin, Nacho Escaño, I hired Norman Black then Jong Uichico. I had a very strong staff then. That's the secret for our great performance in the World Cup.”

Reyes, who owns a PBA record six Coach of the Year awards, has reached out to his old friend, Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history with 24 championships and the only mentor to win two grand slams.

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This is not the first time both coaches will work together.

During Cone's early years in the PBA, Reyes was one of the American mentor's deputies with Alaska and together, they were instrumental in the team's first championship in the third conference of the 1991 season.

Reyes, then, moved to the old Purefoods franchise and immediately won a championship under Coney Island in the 1993 All-Filipino Cup.

The two found themselves working together again when Cone coached the Philippine Centennial Team that won the gold medal in the William Jones Cup in 1998 and the bronze medal in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.

When Reyes was appointed head coach of the Philippine men's basketball team for the first time in 2005, he brought in Cone to join him when the team trained in the United States.

With the stakes getting higher and national pride is on the line, Reyes feels he needs a lot of help, especially coming off a disappointing stint in the Southeast Asian Games where the Philippines lost the gold medal game for the first time in more than three decades.

“We put the strongest coaching staff possible in 2014 and I'm doing the same thing here. We have Coach Nenad Vucinic and now Tim Cone. Goldwyn (Monteverde) is also now in the staff, together with coach Jong Uichico. I think we have a pretty solid staff,” Reyes said.

Reyes was the man responsible for steering the Philippines back to the world stage for the first time in 40 years when Gilas Pilipinas finished second to Iran in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, which served as a qualifying tournament for the FIBA World Cup.

On the heels of an unsuccessful campaign in the SEA Games, Reyes believes it's the right time to ask for help, even from their rival company San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

Just recently, Manuel V. Pangilinan of the MVP Group of Companies and SMC big boss Ramon S. Ang met to discuss plans on how they can put up a more successful program for Philippine basketball.

Reyes said hiring Cone is one of the end products of that fruitful meeting.

“We've been constantly talking. He was always on top of my list. When I was appointed head coach in February, I called him up right away. But of course, it's not easy and we have to look at his commitments and schedules. Finally, because of the meeting of the two top management (MVP and SMC), then it happened,” he said.

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