MANILA, Philippines -- Like previous national team head coaches before him, Tim Cone is seeing the limitations of once-a-week practices for Gilas Pilipinas.
The national team succumbed to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in a tune-up game on Monday, 93-89, and Cone acknowledged that the result was a "step back" for the team ahead of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
It was especially disappointing for Cone as Gilas had beaten Alab, 98-95, in their first tune-up game last week. They could not build on that result, however, and Cone chalked it up to their lack of preparation for the ASEAN Basketball League side.
"That was the difference between us this week and them, because they were able to practice every day, preparing themselves for tonight’s game. We couldn’t prepare," said Cone.
As they can only practice on Monday evenings, the national team has yet to master the intricacies of Cone's system, particularly his defensive schemes. Thus, it is no surprise that the coach is looking forward to the week before the start of the SEA Games, when Gilas can finally string together daily practices.
Cone expects to get the national team players from November 26 onward, after the quarterfinals of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup.
"So, from the 26th to at least the first or second (of December), we're gonna be able to have straight practices," he said. "That’ll be the first time we’ll have back-to-back practice, we’ll be able to build on something."
"It’s very hard to have one practice, and then come back a week later, and try to build on what you did a week ago, because they forget it already, ‘cause they're back to their mother teams," he pointed out.
Once the national team players are released by their clubs, Cone is looking forward to intensifying their preparations -- particularly on the defensive end.
"We're not getting back well on transition. And that’s really an effort area of the game, and also a technique area of the game. It’s really hard to work on transition defense when you have a tired team, because it takes a lot of sprinting back, it takes a lot of effort," he said.
"That's something, again, that week before we play, it’s something we hope to sharpen and fix," he added.
"The way it is right now, the way we’re set up right now, we really don’t have the time to work on that aspect of the game. But still, it comes down to defense. We’re still not as good as we need to be defensively."
The basketball competition in the SEA Games starts on December 4.
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