Tim Cone has been a coach in the PBA since 1989. Yeng Guiao made his big-league bench debut in 1990.
Between them, the two coaches have won 19 PBA titles. Amazingly, the Governors’ Cup finals, which pits Cone’s B-MEG Llamados against Guiao’s Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, will be the first championship round meeting between the two men.
But while both are fiery personalities on the sidelines, the highly-anticipated matchup between two of the league’s finest coaching minds are marked by mutual respect and admiration.
“I have the highest respect for Coach Tim,” said Guiao of Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history. “The more I think about his accomplishments, the more I get intimidated.
“I don’t want to look at his achievements, especially now that we’re meeting in the finals. Not only is Tim Cone a great coach, he’s also coaching a good team with a lot of championship experience in B-MEG. Looking at these numbers will limit my chances of beating him and winning the championship. I don’t want him to become an additional worry in the finals.”
Cone returns his rival’s compliments.
“I’ve always been a fan of Yeng Guiao,” said Cone. “You’ll be amazed of how he does things for his team that sometimes you might want to add it to your play book.”
The philosophies of the two coaches often clash. Cone prefers a deliberate style of play, and relies heavily on preparation and attention to detail. Guiao is the last of the old-school breed of Filipino coaches, making use of his full lineup to devise unpredictable attacks, often in a wide-open, run-and-gun setting.
But they also share similarities, winning chief among them. Cone won 13 titles with Alaska before moving this season to B-MEG, which he led to the Commissioner’s Cup title.
Guiao, meanwhile, has been a winner at almost every turn. He led Swift to championships in the 1992 Third Conference and the 1993 Commissioner’s Cup, and Red Bull to titles in the 2001 and 2002 Commissioner’s Cup and the 2005-06 Fiesta Conference. He hopes to do the same for the upstart Elasto Painters, which has enjoyed a resurgence since he took over the team last season, leading them to the semifinals in three of his first five conferences with the team.
But for the first time, Cone and Guiao will be standing in each other’s way, in a best-of-seven finals that would finally turn them from mutual fans to friendly rivals.