Long way to go for Gilas – Cone

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
Long way to go for Gilas � Cone
Tim Cone
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The ship has sailed in flying colors for Gilas Pilipinas in a new, exciting era but the journey to the coveted destination is still miles and miles away.

“Make no mistake about it, we have a long way to go,” said head coach Tim Cone after an unbeaten start in Window 1 of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers. “We have a lot of work ahead of us and a long way to go.”

Cone, who was appointed as the Nationals’ permanent head coach just last month following his gold medal feat in the Asian Games that ended the country’s 61-year drought, wasted no time getting his newly assembled unit to work with a 2-0 start in Group B of the qualifiers highlighted by a 53-point whipping of Chinßese Taipei, 106-53, over the weekend at the PhilSports Arena.

Gilas – made up of veterans and rising stars from the PBA, UAAP and the Japan B. League plus Justin Brownlee as the naturalized player – first clobbered Hong Kong, 94-64, on the road for a whopping 41.5-point winning margin in its first two games under Cone.

But it’s just the beginning – and somehow for Cone, a shortlived ending to a booming curtain-raiser of a long-term program geared towards making it to the 2027 FIBA World Cup and ultimately, the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“We won’t play until another three or four months,” said Cone as they go separate ways for now with him and his wards returning to their mother clubs.

Brownlee will play overseas while Cone, Scottie Thompson, Chris Newsome, CJ Perez, Calvin Oftana, Jamie Malonzo, June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar will play in the PBA Philippine Cup starting tomorrow.

With no tournaments available for Brownlee at home, he’s very much allowed and open to play elsewhere to stay in tiptop shop before reuniting with Ginebra next season and Gilas in a few months.

“There are offers for him to go play overseas since it is All-Filipino,” said Cone.

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