What drives Tim Cone to keep coaching?

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2020 12:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Tim Cone is already the winningest coach in PBA history, with 22 championships to his name including two Grand Slams. 

Yet he shows no signs of stopping and remains as excited as ever to guide the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, with whom he has won four PBA titles.

"The quick answer is, winning never gets old," Cone said, when asked what continues to drive him in his coaching career. 

Cone steered Ginebra to the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup title, the third time in the last four years that they've ruled the league's third conference. They did so by beating their budding rivals, the Meralco Bolts, in five games. 

Remarkably, even as they celebrated their latest crown, Cone was quick to turn his attention to their next goal -- winning the All-Filipino Cup. It is the only conference that the Gin Kings have yet to win under Cone's mentorship.

"You're always going out to try to win, it never gets old trying to win, and the losing gets old, sure, but the winning never gets old," said Cone, during an online seminar for Hoops Coaches International.

Ginebra's All-Filipino campaign has yet to start, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to suspend all of its activities before the Gin Kings could play a game. 

For Cone, however, it's not just about winning. Another reason that he continues to coach is the constant evolution of the game -- something that fascinates the 62-year-old mentor. 

"I grew up with the triangle (offense)," said Cone, who is a well-known proponent of the system made famous by legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson. "The triangle is (an) evolving offense."

"It's never been boring to me, because it's always changing. I've never felt like I was doing the same thing year in, year out. That's why I love the triangle so much," he explained.

As much as he loves the triangle offense, Cone recognizes the need to change and adapt, which is why Ginebra has been running new sets as well. The coach said that this is also "real exciting" for him, especially as it took "a lot of guts" for him to veer away from what he is used to and make such a change instead.

"The game evolves. You can't get stuck to where you are. At this point, I think our guys really like what we're doing. This particular team likes the action that we do. It's not easy to learn, it's not easy to teach. It takes a lot of repetition but it's been effective for us so far," he explained.

"I think just from a coaching standpoint, you're always growing, you're always evolving," Cone also stressed.

It is a mindset that he tries to teach to his players as well -- especially those who are veterans of the game. Cone recalls telling players like Jeff Cariaso, Mark Caguioa, and Jayjay Helterbrand that once they feel they know everything about basketball, "then it's time to retire."

"If you have that feeling that you know everything, then it's time to retire," he stressed.

It's a feeling that is foreign to Cone.

"I just don't feel like I know everything there is to know about the game," he said. "There's just so much that I learn all the time. I love the learning process, and I like being around guys who wanna get better and I have those guys. So it's an exciting time, all the time."

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