In just one week, the 2012-2013 PBA season will finally conclude, and we'll have already crowned our Governors Cup champions. But a lot could happen in a week in basketball, and given the way the current Finals series has turned out, both teams might still have a few tricks hidden up their sleeves.
Halfway through the finals, the San Mig Coffee Mixers have tied the championship race to two games apiece (2-2), turning this series into a nail-biting best-of-three affair. Starting Game 4 with a renewed defensive intensity, SMC got into the faces of the Petron Blaze Boosters right from the get-go. They led by as much as 28, seemingly trying their best to redeem themselves from their 90-68 defeat in Game 3. But this advantage was eaten away by the Boosters as the game progressed; they even lead by two in the last few minutes. Fortunately for James Yap and Co., they managed to regroup and find a way to escape with the victory. The final count: 88-86.
But whether it's one point, or 30 points, everyone starts with a new slate in Sunday's Game 5. I’m pretty sure that these players and coaches are all trying to wrack their brains for adjustments, plays, counter-attacks, and defensive tactics in order to outplay each other.
And between the two coaching heads, it's no secret that San Mig's Tim Cone has the more extensive resume compared to Petron's rookie mentor Gee Abanilla.
And the more serious demeanor
Coach Tim has been with the PBA since 1989, or when he was just a spry 32. He began his career as the head coach of the Alaska franchise, giving them 13 championships during his leadership.
In 2011, after 22 years of serving the Gatas Republic, Cone bolted Alaska and became the head coach of the B-Meg LLamados, now known as the San Mig Coffee Mixers. He led the franchise to a championship in his first year, winning his 14th title during last year's Commissioner’s Cup.
Now he is hoping to get his 15th diadem, which will tie him with his boyhood idol: legendary Crispa coach Baby Dalupan.
Whew, what a career...
With all these accomplishments, Coach Tim has become a legend himself, highly regarded for his system, perfectionism, and focus to deliver the task at hand. From other coaches to players, to sports analysts and mere fans, the respect he gets is drawn from the same value he gives to the game.
For spectators who see him from afar, there seems to be no room for any "lightness” in his aura; on the court, it's all business. It is not shocking to see him screaming his lungs out just to give the right instructions to his players, or to vent out questions to referees and officials about certain calls.
Coach Tim demonstrates the amount of calls he doesn't agree with in every game
If anything, it's not too different for those who get to interact with him up close—like me, for instance. He is serious most of the time, because that's the attitude required to get the job done in Cone's system. But I must say that Coach Tim, however busy his mind gets when at work, is very accommodating whenever he's being interviewed.