Kenneth Duremdes, who won the 1998 PBA Most Valuable Player trophy while playing for Tim Cone in Alaska, was surprised when the coach decided to part ways with the franchise after 22 years last week.
“I’m surprised he’s no longer with Alaska.” said Duremdes, who is now an official of the Powerade Tigers. “But I won’t be surprised to see him coaching in the PBA again with another team.”
Years after last playing for the multi-titled mentor, Duremdes said that there’s no one quite like the master of the Triangle Offense.
“Walang katulad si Tim Cone,” he said.
Duremdes isn’t alone in praise of Cone, who is second only to Baby Dalupan for most championships in PBA history.
“Tim Cone made Alaska,” said Chot Reyes, a longtime friend and rival of the former Aces coach. Reyes began his PBA career as an assistant for Cone with Alaska.
“His presence [in the Aces] will be missed, but the organization will continue because that’s how he built it.”
But even other tacticians who’ve had fierce battles with Cone are effusive in praise of the coach, who led Alaska to a Grand Slam in 1996.
“Tim is Hall of Fame material,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “He has nothing to prove in terms of ability and longevity.”
Guiao offered insight as to what made Cone such a great coach.
“He is very dangerous if he handles a talent-laden team, because his style allows a structured approach, and yet it allows talent to flourish,” said Guiao.
Barangay Ginebra co-coach Jong Uichico, who led the San Miguel Beermen against Alaska in classic battles in the early part of the last decade, said that he always took assignments versus Cone as an opportunity to expand his coaching knowledge.
“I’ve observed his coaching,” said Uichico. “I’ve coached against him for ten years, and I’ve learned a lot, especially in those games that we lost against them.”
Eric Altamirano, who now mans the sidelines for the National University Bulldogs in the UAAP, coached against Cone for several years in the PBA, and echoed Uichico’s sentiments.
“I have high respect for coach Tim and every game going up against him was a learning experience,” said Altamirano.
But while Cone’s status is still up in the air, at least one coach, Guiao, wouldn’t mind if the American coach extended his vacation a little longer.
“And I must admit, I hate coaching against him,” said Guiao.
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