Cone won his fourth Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan Coach of the Year award on Monday night in the PBA Press Corps Awards Night at the Novotel Manila in Quezon City.
In his speech, the multi-titled mentor, paid homage to Dalupan.
“There is only one GOAT in Philippine basketball. Yes, there’s only one GOAT in Philippine basketball… And that’s Baby Dalupan,” Cone said before members of the media, basketball officials and players.
“He will always be known as the greatest and I’m truly honored to be mentioned with his name. And I just think that that’s the coolest thing in the world,” he added.
Dalupan won 15 PBA championships with the Crispa Redmanizers, Great Taste Discoverers and Purefoods.
In 2014, Cone broke Dalupan’s 15-title record.
Cone had shown reverence to the basketball coaching icon numerous times in the past.
He received his fourth coach of the year plum in a year that saw him win the Asian Games gold medal and the PBA Commissioner’s Cup against the Bay Arena Dragons.
Meanwhile, TNT Tropang Giga’s Jayson Castro was given the Order of Merit in the event, while San Miguel’s CJ Perez was lauded as the Scoring Champion.
Justin Arana, Ato Ular, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano were also feted as members of the All-Rookie Team.
Jericho Cruz was named Mr. Quality Minutes; Roi Sumang was the William Adornado Comeback Player of the Year; and Jio Jalalon was the Defensive Player of the Year.
TNT team manager and head coach Jojo Lastimosa also won the Danny Floro Executive of the Year.
The first game of the Philippine Cup Finals between TNT and San Miguel was named as the game of the season.
Additionally, the members of the Gilas Pilipinas squad that won the goal in the 19th Asian Games were hailed with the President’s Award.
Meanwhile, Cone, who coached the historic Gilas squad, also thanked former Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.
Reyes “stepped aside” from the program after the FIBA World Cup, just a few weeks before the Asiad.
This was when Cone was tapped to lead the squad.
“I do wanna say thank you to someone who really helped me along this journey and especially towards the Asian Games, and that’s Coach Chot… He brought me on to the world cup team, and that just kinda opened up everything for me,” he said.
“It was a tremendous experience, learning experience and learning from him and learning from all the coaches that we got… and that kinda changed my whole perspective on coaching,” he continued.
“I owe it to you, Chot. I thank you for that. He gave me that blessing when I go to coach the Asian Games and he kept pushing me to do it. I just appreciate all that support.” — Ralph Edwin Villanueva
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