Cone says Yap will excel in triangle
- Joaquin M. Henson () - September 28, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Newly designated B-Meg coach Tim Cone said yesterday Derby Ace hotshot James Yap will thrive in the triangle system that he’s installing with the Llamados in the PBA this season and if the former MVP plays according to form, the King could be unstoppable.

“James will be a good fit for the triangle,” said Cone. “He’d be great in any system because he’s so skilled but I believe the triangle will give him a bit of unpredictability because teams won’t be able to load up and anticipate when he’s getting the ball. Because defenses won’t be as alert to him, James will get better looks and won’t be manhandled physically as much. If he can really buy into the system, then I think the sky is the limit for him.”

Cone said he did a lot of soul-searching before deciding to leave Alaska, which he coached for 22 years, but when it came to choosing his next destination, B-Meg was the perfect choice.

“We developed such tremendous relationships at Alaska – with the players, the staff, (team manager) Joaqui (Trillo) and of course, most importantly, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Uytengsu,” said Cone. “They were more than just co-workers or employers. They were family, and in the case of Mr. and Mrs. Uytengsu, they were mentors and intimate friends. And without a doubt, those relationships were the hardest to let go in the move. There were certainly some tears involved on our side.”

As for B-Meg, Cone said he did his homework and considered other options but in the final analysis, there could be no other team to join. “When it came down to it, the player personnel of the team was just a good fit for me,” said Cone. “They’re a veteran group, and who would not want to coach James and a healthy Kerby Raymundo? It’s funny, when the rumors of my move came out, everyone was speculating I would go to B-Meg because I guess they saw it as the logical destination, and they ended up being right. Just goes to show how knowledgeable our fans are in the PBA.”

Cone said coaching against Alaska will probably be a strange feeling at first. “I’m going to try to make it as normal a game as I can for the players and hopefully not let them get distracted, but of course for me, there’s going to be a lot nerves and emotion,” he continued. “You can’t just get away from the ties and relationships that you built over 22 years that easy.”

Alaska, however, won’t be Cone’s only headache as he listed the “usual suspects” in assessing the opposition in the Philippine Cup that opens on Sunday. “Talk ‘N’ Text, of course, will be tougher, now with Japeth (Aguilar),” he noted. “Petron has gotten even stronger with (Chris) Lutz and the return of Dondon (Hontiveros), and there’s Ginebra. Alaska will obviously post great problems for us. Then Rain or Shine, Meralco, or Barako could be the darkhorse. Powerade with their new additions could be a real surprise. And then you have to imagine that Shopinas will pull up the rear as they develop their franchise.”

Cone said B-Meg’s depth will be a major advantage. “Our strength is we have great players and our weakness is we have great players,” he went on. “The great players bring so much to the table and that’s great but also great players have the habit of wanting to do everything on their own. I have a disciplined system that I’m bringing with me and I’m going to have to sell it to these great players and see if they’ll let the system work for them. That is a bigger challenge than most believe.”

With his former Alaska quarterback Johnny Abarrientos as an assistant, Cone said he has the model mentor for rookie Mark Barroca. “The triangle isn’t necessarily a point guard-driven offense although having saying that, the guys who excelled the best for Alaska in our system were two very ‘true’ point guards in Johnny and L. A. (Tenorio),” he explained. “We’re incredibly deep in the point guard position and there’s going to be a lot of competition in that position for playing time. Saying all that, I’m very, very high on Mark. He reminds me very much of our very own Johnny who will spend time mentoring him and I think he’s going to be a star in this league.”

Barroca will share point guard chores with Josh Urbiztondo, Roger Yap and injured Jonas Villanueva who won’t be available until the second conference.

In the frontline, Cone said he’ll make use of the length and quickness of Rafi Reavis and Marc Pingris. “Joe (De Vance) will play the backcourt for us offensively and pick up opposing centers defensively and Kerby is an excellent defender,” he said. “We’ve also picked up tough guy John Ferriols. So we feel we’re okay up front.”

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