Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is coming together slowly but surely as players continue to learn executing the right way the ‘triangle offense’ of coach Tim Cone.
The best part of it is Cone is enjoying the experience.
“It was fun to watch the two big guys. I never had two guys like that,” said Cone, referring to 6-foot-10 forward Japeth Aguilar and 7-foot center Greg Slaughter, the team’s version of the ‘Twin Towers’.
Cone’s team is loaded with talent as the Kings also have former league MVP recipients Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, Chris Ellis and Mac Baracael.
Aside from the mainstays, the Kings also added rookies Earl Scottie Thompson, Ginebra’s No. 5 overall pick in last Sunday’s PBA Rookie Draft, former UST stalwart Aljon Mariano and Lee Villamor of National University.
While both Mariano (16th, second round) and Villamor (28th, third round) have attended the team’s practice sessions since the Draft, the 6-foot-1 Thompson has been excused because of NCAA rules.
Under the bylaws of the oldest collegiate league in the country, its players are allowed to join the draft, but once selected, they have to finish first the season before joining practice sessions or signing a contract.
Thompson, the NCAA MVP, is playing for the Perpetual Help Altas.
“It’s only fair that we allow him to focus on the NCAA and Perpetual Help. I told him to just stay focused there,” said Cone of Thompson, who also starred for the Gilas Cadet team that won the gold medal in the last Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
As for the team’s composition, Cone said it’s just a matter of improving as a team playing the ‘triangle offense’ to prepare them for the 41st PBA season starting with the Philippine Cup.
“Obviously, there is a lot of talent on this team and a lot of potential leaders,” said Cone. “They’ve got the tools to win, but it doesn’t come automatic. We got to figure out a way to use it; a lot of work.”
Cone said it helps that Ginebra players understand the system which was implemented by former coach Jeff Cariaso, a former player of Cone with Alaska and assistant coach when they were both with the Star Hotshots (formerly San Mig Super Coffee).
The big difference, however, is the long period of time they have to prepare as a team, as compared to the 10-day preparation the team had when Cariaso took over before the start of the Governors’ Cup back in 2013.
“The big difference here, they only had 10 days of practice before their first game, so they had to really rush it all together. Here we have seven weeks before we play our first game,” said Cone.
“We have time to build our foundation… take our time and build it right. That gives us the opportunity to be a lot better,” added Cone, owner of 18 PBA titles and a pair of Grand Slams – with Alaska (1996) and San Mig (2014).