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PBA: Cone sizes up Ginebra Kings

TIM Cone

Tim Cone described his new team Barangay Ginebra San Miguel as a talented team that is capable of competing for the championship.

But the record-holder for the most number of PBA titles with 18 feels that there’s one aspect that is hindering Ginebra’s quest for success.

“I find Ginebra as a team with a strong lineup, but unbalanced,” Cone said after he was formally introduced as Ginebra coach yesterday at the San Miguel Corporation office in Ortigas.

“There has to be a better balance, one or two conferences. We got to figure it out, who you want (on the team).”

The announcement came after a highly-publicized move, which San Miguel big boss Ramon S. Ang admitted days ago, made to please Ginebra fans who have been clamoring for improving the team’s chances of ending a seven-year title drought.

San Miguel did heed on the fans’ request, shifting Cone to Ginebra after a successful four-year stint with Star, the team that the 57-year-old American steered to five championships including the 2014 grand slam.

The transfer also paved the way for SMC to elevate Jason Webb, one of Cone’s assistants, as Star’s next coach.

“It’s like Tim Floyd, and Mike Brown… they came in after Phil Jackson. So how can you replace a Tim Cone? It can never happen. For me, I’m coming in taking a vacant position, rather than filling in the shoes of coach Tim,” said Webb, who was beside Cone during the formal introduction.

While Webb will inherit a squad that is used to lifting championship trophies, Cone will have to find ways to turn the underachieving Ginebra side into a winner.

Cone has the pieces to build one, particularly Ginebra’s twin tower combination of 7-footer Greg Slaughter and 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar.

“There’s a great opportunity with Japeth and Greg,” said Cone. “You look inside before going outside, we’ll play on the strength of Japeth and Greg, but the whole idea is to equal opportunity, that’s the triangle.”

He will also bring his Triangle Offense to Ginebra and hope that the team will be able to succeed in the system that former coach Jeffrey Cariaso failed to successfully implement in 2014.

Also on Cone’s agenda to make his twin towers as well as his loaded backcourt composed of Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio (his former playmaker when he coached Alaska until 2011), Sol Mercado, Josh Urbiztondo, Eman Monfort and Jayjay Helterbrand.

“Our trust will be on defense. Are they going to buy the defense (philosophy)? Coz I still a believer that defense wins championships. But I’m excited playing with the two big guys, I’m excited to find out about Mark Caguioa… I know LA. Coming into this new situation, we’ll see if we can be successful,” added Cone.

The last time Ginebra won a championship was back in 2008 Fiesta Conference under Jong Uichico.

Since then, Ginebra struggled to win another crown under Siot Tanquingcen, Ato Agustin (twice), Cariaso and Frankie Lim.