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Gilas coach happy to ‘get over the hump’

TIM Cone gets a victory ride after leading Gilas Pilipinas to its first Asian Games title in 61 years. | Photograph courtesy of POC-PSC MEDIA POOL

HANGZHOU, China — Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone is looking forward to a strong performance following their historic conquest in the 19th Asian Games.

Shortly after posting a 70-60 victory over Jordan in the gold medal match of the men’s basketball event on Friday, Cone stressed that he hopes Gilas will sustain the momentum created by their first title in 61 years.

“It had to be somebody, sometime,” Cone said when asked about the impact of ending a six-decade drought for a basketball-crazy country like the Philippines.

“We’re just too good of a basketball nation after winning this thing. We won four straight Asian Games at that time so who knows, maybe this could be our streak, our stretch of winning more Asian Games along the way.

We kinda have to get over the hump.”

Before Cone took over, Gilas suffered numerous heartaches in the Asian Games.

Cone was at the helm when the Centennial Team lost to China in the semifinals, 73-82, which prompted them to settle for a bronze medal.

Four years later, the national squad coached by Jong Uichico was reduced into a huge mass of tears after Olsen Racela missed two free throws, allowing Lee Sang Min to bury a long three-pointer that gave South Korea a 69-68 victory in the semifinals.

Aside from that, the squad of Chot Reyes also absorbed painful setbacks, especially in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014 in which it nearly pulled an upset over favored teams like Croatia, Greece and Puerto Rico.

Cone said with their victory, the Filipinos are finally “over the hump.”

“We had it over so close. For Jong and the two missed free throws and Chot in the World Cup in Spain, there were so many games that came down the wire. Even in the last World Cup. We had opportunities to win more games than we did,” he said.

“It was nice to get over the hump. I think our nation deserves that.”

Still, it’s up to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to plot the future of the national squad.

“Well, that’s something the SBP, that’s the whole reason why I’m part of this one, to give them time to settle in and decide what they want to do going forward,” said Cone, who also coached the squad that won the gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

“That’s really the thing right now. Where’s the SBP gonna go from here?”

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