The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced on Monday that Barangay Ginebra's Tim Cone will be the head coach for Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
The winningest coach in PBA history emerged as the top bet to spearhead the country's campaign in the biennial meet, having the respect of the entire Philippine basketball community and the chops to form a team into a cohesive unit in a short period of time.
"I spoke to Tim Cone last Saturday and he expressed interested but wanted to finish his game last night and talk to his family first," said SBP president Al Panlilio. "Now I'm very happy to announce that coach Tim has officially accepted the role as head coach for Gilas Pilipinas Men in the upcoming SEA Games."
Panlilio added that he respected the decision of Cone, who was already given the go-ahead by San Miguel Corporation President Ramon S. Ang and Sports Director Alfrancis Chua, to talk to his family first, knowing the sacrifices his family will have to make because of the massive responsibility.
"The resolution of our head coach situation should signify the start of our SEA Games preparations because the other countries like Indonesia are already putting in the work," Panlilio added. "We also want to reiterate that we're taking it one step at a time and this arrangement is for the SEA Games only, for now. We're still putting together a plan on how to move forward with our preparations for 2023 and beyond."
Panlilio also said that the composition of the team and the rest of the coaching staff will be tackled with Cone soon.
"We should keep moving forward with the Gilas program. We should keep improving even if it's just incrementally," said SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, who continues to support the Gilas Pilipinas program. "Basketball is the Filipino people's favorite sport so we can't turn our back on it."
Cone had earlier said that this Gilas coaching gig would be a "one-and-done" commitment.
"I understand fully that, if I take the position, it's just a stop-gap position. It's not a commitment to the Gilas head coaching [job]," Cone said on Sunday.
"It's just that the SEA Games is coming in quick and they want someone to step up and do it. So I could very easily be a one-and-done guy. Just go and coach the SEA Games, that's it. And I understand that fully. And this, with me coaching, that will give them time to put their search committee together and find the guy they really want to coach [until], I guess, 2023. ... And I'm perfectly OK with that."
ESPN5's Eros Villanueva contributed to this report.