by Waylon Galvez
Now that he owns the all-time record for most PBA championships with 16, breaking away from a tie with his idol, the legendary Baby Dalupan, San Mig Super Coffee mentor Tim Cone is eyeing the next best thing.
A second Grand Slam.
Cone won No. 16 as he steered the Mixers to another successful campaign with a 4-2 win against Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven series, capping their conquest with a 93-87 victory in Game 6 of the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup Finals last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Prior to the 39th season opener, Cone, 56, was tied with the 90-year-old Dalupan, known as the Maestro, with 15 championships after he helped San Mig Coffee rule the Governors’ Cup against Petron Blaze in May last year.
It was actually Cone’s third championship with the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) owned franchise since he joined the team in September 2011, first winning the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup versus Talk ’N Text.
Aside from that, he has also led the team to the Finals of the Governors’ Cup in 2012 before losing to Rain or Shine in Game 7.
In 1996, Cone completed a Grand Slam with his former team Alaska, which the fabled Crispa Redmanizers (1976 and 1983) and San Miguel Beer (1989) in the exclusive circle.
Cone believes San Mig has the tools to do it.
“It would be nice if we were (new dynasty),” said Cone moments after his team’s victory in Game 6. “These guys are developing a special bond and they go through a lot.”
“Every time you go through tough times, it really develops the bond of the team, and it would be interesting to see if we can generate a lot of energy and come back into the next conference,” added Cone, who signed up James Mays as their import for the Commissioner’s Cup which starts March 5.
In winning the championship – the franchise’s 11th overall and sixth in a no-import tournament – it was fourth year guard Mark Barroca who stood tallest at 5-foot-9, scoring 14 of his 24 points in the fi nal quarter while adding three rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Barroca completed a three-point play off a foul by Jervy Cruz, giving San Mig Coffee an 84-78 lead with 2:44 left in the game. After a layup by Beau Belga, the former star of Smart Gilas Pilipinas nailed a three-pointer over defensive specialist Gabe Norwood for an 87-80 advantage with two minutes to go.
Because of his efforts, Barroca was named the PBA Press Corps-Papa John’s Pizza Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).
“Since I joined the team, we’ve won two championships with imports. But for me, this one is the most special since it’s an all-Filipino conference,” said Barroca, who was actually selected by Air21 (formerly Shopinas.com) in the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft (5th overall) but was immediately traded to San Mig.