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Sports

Cone confident of PBA’s resilience

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone isn’t worried about Filipino players leaving the country to see action overseas although he admits it’s “disconcerting” because they would otherwise be showcasing their skills in the PBA. But the bottom line is he’s not worried.

“As a coach, I support players who get the opportunity to play for bigger money abroad,” he said. “It’s for their future, for their families. But as part of the PBA, I’d like them to play in our league, especially the young kids coming out of college. Will it affect the PBA? I think it’s always a story in the beginning, people thinking the PBA might suffer just like when there was the Asian crisis or the MBA. In my five decades coaching in the PBA, I’ve noticed so much resilience. We’ve survived coups, financial problems, rival leagues. Somehow, we’ve always found a way to keep chugging along.”

Cone said if players leave, there will be others stepping in to take the spots that would’ve gone to them in the PBA. A case in point is the unveiling of PBA prospects in the 3x3 league with free agents who were once drafted but never got a chance to play suddenly catching the attention of scouts.

Cone said the opportunity of playing in the East Asia Super League (EASL) for a $1 million first prize is enticing and he expects every team in the PBA to battle for the chance to represent the country. EASL is slated to launch its inaugural season in October next year. Two squads from the Philippines will see action in the eight-team conclave. It’s another reason for players to stay in the PBA.

When Greg Slaughter was traded to NorthPort before the previous conference, Cone admitted missing the 7-foot center. “Greg and I are really close but it was a good move for him,” he said. “He got the exposure, he was motivated and he delivered June Mar Fajardo-like numbers which I expected. But while I miss Greg, we got Christian (Standhardinger) in exchange so we lost a great guy and got a great guy which was a win-win for both teams.”

Cone said it’s understandable why for the Governors Cup, the PBA is releasing its schedule on a weekly basis. “We’re being tested RT-PCR every Monday then we get the results on Tuesday and the games for the week start on Wednesday,” he said. “We can’t schedule more than a week because if a team can’t play, imagine the adjustment we’ll need to make. For the first week, we play only once, against Alaska on Sunday but I expect in the second week, we’ll play two or three games. It was tough in the Clark and Bacolor bubbles. Hotels tried their best to vary their menus but it wasn’t what you eat at home. At least, now we get to go home, sleep on our own bed and be with our family.

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