Cone pays tribute to Dalupan
By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – Twenty three years after being intimidated by the legendary Baby Dalupan, Tim Cone finally got to match Dalupan’s 15 PBA championships.
“It’s just humbling,” said Cone who recalled losing to Dalupan after Alaska had taken a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series for the 1990 Third Conference crown.
Purefoods won the next three games to give Dalupan his record 15th PBA title.
Every detail, every player, Cone remembers the first time he reached the finals with Alaska.
On Friday night, Cone, 55, steered the Mixers to the Governors’ Cup title at the expense of sister team Petron Blaze in Game 7, 87-77 victory at the packed Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“After all this years, I was able to get my 15… 23 years later. It’s just an incredible story for me, an incredible journey. I wish he had been here, go over and give him a hug,” added Cone, who considers Dalupan his ‘idol’ coach.
Dalupan just turned 90 a few weeks ago.
“He’s such a humble man, he’s just so special. He had such a big impact on my life when I was young, coaching wise. I hope that I can have that same impact on some of the young guys out there right now,” said Cone.
The championship was Cone’s second with the SMC-owned franchise after leading B-Meg to the title also via Game 7 against Talk ’N Text last season.
Overall, it was San Mig’s 10th overall championship to improve its record to 4-4 in a do-or-die seventh game. Cone now is 6-4 in Game 7.
Cone’s wife, Christina, is thrilled.
“We’re so proud of him, he worked so hard,” said Christina Cone, adding that they have no plans yet how to celebrate her husband’s latest championship with the couple’s children, Nikki (20), Kevin (16), and Trevor (6).
“He tried not to think about it… he didn’t even think about it. But you know, this is like a dream come true for him. He has so much respect for coach Baby. I remember when he was young and we’re newly-married (when he coached in the Finals against Dalupan). Being able to match him is just an amazing feeling,” she added.
One player that links Dalupan’s 1990 title team with Purefoods to Cone now is current San Mig team manager Alvin Patrimonio, the former four-time MVP who sees some similarities in style and quality of the two bench tacticians.
“Motivation and preparation, ‘yun ang nakita kong similar sa kanilang dalawa. Kita n’yo naman lumabas ‘yung laro ng mga players,” said Patrimonio.
Veteran forward Marc Pingris, who helped Gilas Pilipinas clinch a spot in the World Championship next year in Spain, capped his season with the PBA Press Corps/Papa John’s Pizza Finals MVP as he collected 19 points, 17 rebounds and five shot blocks.
It was the second time that the 6-foot-5 Pingris won a Finals MVP, winning it first during the 2006 Philippine Cup.
“Yung pinag-hirapan kasi, talagang kapag pinag-hirapan mo may reward na kapalit,” said Pingris. “Kasama na dun ‘yung pag-sakripisyo, sa Gilas Pilipinas, tapos eto nga nung bumalik ako sa team, ilang beses din ako hindi naka-laro.”
San Mig started the conference with a 1-3 card but finished the single-round elimination with a 7-3 record to advance to the quarterfinal playoffs with a twice-to-beat advantage.
After losing to Alaska in the first game, the Mixers earned a spot in the semifinal round with an 83-73 win in the rubbermatch.
In the best-of-five semifinals, the Mixers eliminated the Meralco Bolts, 3-1, to arrange a seven-game showdown with the Boosters.
San Mig fell behind in the series, 2-1, but won Games 4 and 5 to take a 3-2 advantage. Petron forced a rubber-match with a 99-88 win in Game 6.