Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach Tim Cone is thrilled to coach Cameron Oliver, the naturalized candidate who was referred by Sean Chambers to serve as import of TNT Tropang Giga in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
In an interview with Daily Tribune, Cone stressed that he was impressed with Oliver’s performance after leading the Tropang Giga to a 2-1 start in which he averaged 28.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists in his first three games.
But more than that, Cone is thrilled to mentor Oliver because of the fact that it was his former player — Chambers — who brought him to the country after referring him to his former Alaska teammate in TNT Tropang Giga team manager Jojo Lastimosa.
“I’ve watched a couple of TNT games, but I haven’t studied him yet a we have yet to play against them,” Cone, a former Alaska mentor, said during Gilas training last Monday at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
“We’re watching him on the peripheral, but we’re not watching and studying him, how to stop him or what we do until we end up playing them.”
“But I trust him because he’s one of Sean Chambers’ picks and I know Sean’s picks, they’re not just good players, high-quality imports, but high-character players and that’s really important for naturalized players. He not only has to have good skills, but great character.”
While Cone has his personal bet in Justin Brownlee, his longtime player at Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and one of the candidates for naturalization, he believes that character, more than anything else, best represents a naturalized player.
The 24-time PBA champion coach thinks Brownlee is a best representative of a naturalized player as he has the character that should also be upheld by future candidates.
“He’s not only representing himself or a team, but he is representing a country,” Cone said.
“I think Oliver is a high-character guy and I know Sean brings over only high-character guys.”
Measured at 6-foot-8, Oliver brings a new dimension among naturalized prospects with his athleticism and versatilit, on top of the added size that he infuses to the guard-oriented Gilas side.
Brownlee and the country’s legitimate naturalized player, Jordan Clarkson, both play the guard spots while Gilas’ other reinforcement, Ange Kouame, is a big man, whose sweet spot is inside the shaded lane.
The 26-year-old Oliver, for his part, is a more matured, versatile big man as he had already played in the National Basketball League in Australia as well as the Houston Rockets and the Atlanta Hawks in the National Basketball Association.