Cone confirms talks to coach SEA Games team, but nothing finalized yet

Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone confirmed he has been talking with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio as far as coaching the men's basketball team for the 30th Southeast Asian Games is concerned.

But the two-time PBA grand slam champion has no plans of making an announcement yet as he discusses this first with his family.

"I've been in conversation with SBP President Al Panlilio regarding the SEA Games head coaching position for basketball," Cone said in a message sent to media men on Saturday.

"I know that Mr. Panlilio and my boss, Alfrancis Chua, have also had discussions regarding the position."

However, given the proximity of Ginebra's Governors' Cup debut game, the PBA's winningest coach said his focus for the time being is the Kings' game versus the Alaska Aces scheduled on Sunday.

Still, Cone isn't closing the door on the SBP offer.

"On Monday and after talking to my family, Mr. Panlilio and I will continue our conversation regarding the appointment, at which time we will come to a resolution," said Cone.

It has been 21 years ago since Cone first handled the national squad, then known as the Philippine Centennial team.

The Centennial squad, bannered by then PBA stars Johnny Abarrientos, Vergel Meneses, Alvin Patrimonio, Jojo Lastimosa and Marlou Aquino, finished third in the Bangkok Asian Games in 1998.

Cone emerged as the top choice in a shortlist of candidates that will handle the Gilas squad that will be defending the 2019 SEA Games men's basketball crown, which the country is hosting from Nov. 30-Dec. 11.

Pingris vouches for Cone

Marc Pingris has thrown his support behind his former coach, whom he won five championships -- including a Grand Slam -- with.

"He's proven a lot in the PBA. He's good for the job. Personally I'm alright with that move," Pingris said in Filipino. "I support coach Tim 100 percent. He's a great coach. He's proven that already, no doubt."

Pingris sees no problem with Cone using the triangle offense with the national team, but said that focusing on the defensive and getting ample time to prepare with a full lineup should be the utmost priority.

"Our opponents will be big and tall whether or not they run the triangle. They can try it. For me, it's really about focusing more on defense," he said. "They also need to practice longer and to play some tune-up games against other countries. It's really difficult if the preparation lasts only for a month, really difficult. It doesn't matter who the coach is, it's really going to be hard."

"I understand other coaches who get bashed a lot. What they go through is not easy because the players' time with each other is really short," Pingris added.

"The tune-up games and the practices need to be at least three months. That's so the players become more familiar with each other, because those are different talents. They need to be solid with each other."