The vitriol towards Chot Reyes’ Gilas Pilipinas stint somewhat dissipated once Tim Cone stepped in on an interim basis to coach the Philippines for the postponed 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
Crisis is inevitable with Gilas and yet, Cone’s handling through his first one with Justine Baltazar and Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda was done well to the point that it is now a footnote in the 25-time PBA champion’s brief stint with Gilas Pilipinas thus far.
Cone even went as far as holding a joint practice with Gilas Pilipinas Womens, one that was also open to the public. Filipinos will always feel connected with their national basketball team and yet, Cone and his team took it to another level by bringing themselves closer to the people that love them with an intense passion.
Even with these strides, it’s unfortunate that the curveballs just keep coming.
With the removal of Reyes and injuries to some prospects, the Philippines sought to bring in replacement players in Terrence Romeo, Mo Tautuaa, Jason Perkins, and Calvin Abueva, all of whom would not only beef up Gilas, but were also a big boost to Cone’s system. Alas, Perkins and Abueva were not in the initial 60-man list sent months ago, while Romeo, Tautuaa, and alternate/reserve Stanley Pringle were not included in the 37-man list that emerged in recent days. There were rumors that the 37-man list was the pool cleared by the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee, but one thing’s for sure (aside from spelling Onyeka Okongwu’s name wrong):
Not only was this all unfortunate and avoidable, but this is all clerical and nothing to do with on-court performance. In both lists, many of the players came from the UAAP, Japan’s B.League, and the Korean Basketball League, all of whom are set to begin their seasons in the coming weeks. You can’t blame them for not releasing their players, but you have to question the foresight (or lack thereof) from the genius who came up with the pool. Besides Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was already naturalized by Jordan, while Okongwu would be a great catch for Gilas Pilipinas. Yet until now, nothing concrete has come from that.
You have to feel for Romeo, Tautuaa, Perkins, Abueva, and Pringle, all of whom devoted time and effort in the practices. Romeo and Abueva are looking at redemption tours with the national team, while Tautuaa, Perkins, and Pringle are more than happy to represent the country in a competition where eligibility only requires a passport.
Any ideas of pulling out of the Asian Games Men’s 5×5 Basketball competition were thrown out the window as the remaining eligible players themselves were ready to go no matter what. Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino, Marcio Lassiter, and CJ Perez, who are now set to replace the initial “replacements” were then called into duty and must play catch up with less than a week to go before the Philippines opens its 5×5 Men’s Basketball campaign against Bahrain. Tolentino is a former member of Cone’s current PBA team, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, while Perez, Ross, and Lassiter were part of Cone’s 2019 Sea Games gold-medal team.
All the good that came thus far with Tim Cone’s brief stint with Gilas Pilipinas has been met with some unfortunate events that quite frankly, reveal the lack of foresight within Philippine basketball. To their credit, Cone and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas quickly made some adjustments, but will that be enough to get them out of a hole they technically dug themselves in?