Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone has always looked at the All-Star festivities as a rare chance for him to handle interesting talents whom he doesn’t usually coach.
Initially, Cone was to coach superstars June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo as part of the Visayas All-Stars until national coach Chot Reyes on Friday announced the two will be included in the final Gilas Pilipinas lineup which will compete in the 2017 SEABA Championship next month.
Cone will have to wait for another chance to mentor both.
“It’s unfortunate that they’re gonna move to the other team because that’s what I’m excited about,” he said.
“It’s always interesting to coach even for a moment guys you always see from a distance. You get to know their a little bit about their personality and you get to know them a little bit. That’s kind of fun and that’s really the best part of it. The game itself is not a lot of fun from a coaching standpoint. But being around the guys — guys that you go normally competitively against, is a lot of fun.”
Still, the squad Cone will handle boasts talented players who find their roots in the Visayan islands.
And one guy who stands out for Cone is no less than Rain or Shine’s James Yap.
“A reunion with James is gonna be fun,” said Cone of Yap, whom he won five championships with in his tenure with the Purefoods franchise.
Cone will also have familiar faces in LA Tenorio, Joe Devance, and Chris Ellis who are part of the Gin Kings. Jeff Chan, and Jericho Cruz of Rain or Shine, Chris Ross and Ronald Tubid of San Miguel, Alaska’s Dondon Hontiveros, Star’s Aldrech Ramos, and NLEX frontline of Asi Taulava and Rabeh Al-Hussaini complete the team.
Though seen as an All-Star game, Cone wants his Visayas All-Stars to take the game seriously as he hopes to give Gilas a good workout in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu on Sunday.
“It’s not an All-Star game in my mind. We’re there for a purpose — to get the national team ready. So I’m gonna expect my guys to go hard and take it seriously,” he said.
“I’ve never been a fan of All-Star teams because always just fool around, but since you’re doing something for the national interest, it makes this one exciting. How much we could get done in one practice in terms of offense and defense? I don’t know. But we’ll have the talent and we’ll do the best with our talent against them.”