Tim Cone: Released NOT retired

E. Cow is sad right now.

Every hoop lover’s Twitter account is ravaged by Tim Cone’s announcement that he is stepping down as head coach of the Alaska Aces. If I wasn’t swamped with job orders, I would have play-by-played with all the twits I gathered. I was a fan of the squad in the 90’s when Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, and Bong Hawkins led the squad and to this day I can’t really see the Aces minus the American mentor who looks exactly like the product’s boy.

Easily, this news trumps the arrival of Manny Pacquiao’s arch-nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.

And for me... that’s okay.

In the press conference, Alaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu revealed that Tim Cone indeed asked his release from the squad. These two have been inseparable since forever and you can frequently see them in softball games and everyday activities. For 22 years, Cone has given his all for making the Aces the most revered organization outside the San Miguel teams and the Pangilinan-owned squads.

But now Tim Cone wants to explore other options and to challenge himself.

By the way, Tim Cone was released... but he never said he retired.

Uytengsu said that as early as last week, Cone has already approached him with this thought. One of the greatest coaches ever produced by the league, Uytengsu has nothing but praises for Cone who gave his squad 13 fruitful titles and a grand slam score. With Cone’s departure, Joel Banal will now be the new Alaska coach.

Cone has nothing but good things to former assistant. Banal had earlier won a title with Talk N Text in his version of a grand slam (I think this was the year his UAAP squad, the Ateneo Blue Eagles and his PBL squad Ateneo-Pioneer). Cone said Joel Banal was too great of a coach to be an assistant forever and this is the time to prove to naysayers that what he had then can still be done today. Cone can’t really be saying that he’ll abandon his players because he’ll be leaving his players in the willing hands of Banal.

People are saying that Tim Cone’s release further strengthens the fact that Alaska is losing money and might opt out of the PBA. Losing money? Here’s the thing: the Uytengsu are one of the richest names in the country. Believing they are on the verge of bankruptcy is stupid. Stinginess-wise though, they can be one of the most. Online reports mouth that Alaska only gives out a bonus equivalent to one and a half months whenever their teams win a conference. Meanwhile, other squads get a bonus equivalent to three months when they win. The reason Joe Devance left the team is because he wanted to have what other players are getting. Sure we can whine about a certain amount of stars ridiculously ruining their legacy by merely riding a team’s bench but we also need to accept that in the end, financial security wins. This is perhaps why the team’s Mutt and Jeff combo, presumably Sonny Thoss and LA Tenorio, could also be on their way out of the squad.

Being stingy is an upside for the Aces though. For years, the imba or imbalance of big money teams like Petron, Ginebra, B-Meg, Talk N Text, and Meralco is screaming doom for the league. While we are ecstatic teams like Ginebra are still fancied, people turn off their sets when Powerade, Barako Bull, and Sta. Lucia play. In some ways this is perhaps one of the reasons why teams like Shell, Sta. Lucia, and Red Bull folded why teams like Air21 are giving away their top stars expecting nothing in return.

As the world suffers from financial instability, maintaining a team with zero stars and little rewards is like burning a buckload of dinero.

Last season, the Alaska Aces had to give up Joe Devance and Reynel Hugnatan for Hans Thiele and Jay-R Reyes. These trades no less were lopsided but the Alaska management can’t do anything to prevent it.

Uytengsu would later quoted in Twitter saying this: “Somewhere down the road when the situation in the PBA is that graft and corruption becomes the norm, I think that’s the time we have to go look elsewhere because I don’t think the PBA is going to be a viable form of entertainment anymore where individuals are supposed to be role models for the youth”.

Alaska is far from becoming like Red Bull or the second formation of the Tanduay Rhum Masters that were disgruntled to the heavens because they simply can’t buy any love from the Commissioner’s Office. But the Alaska bigwigs want the salary cap controversy to get sorted out. If you look at the PBA website, there is no such thing as a free agent tracker.

All of a sudden, it’s funny that Alaska has the highest recorded payroll last year.

But perhaps Commissioner Chito Salud has solved this by the introduction of the new unrestricted free agent system where 6-year PBA veterans are free to sign up with any team they find that can help their superstar tag to explode.

So what’s next for Tim Cone? Well contrary to rumors, Cone has no clue where he’ll end up. SMC allegedly hasn’t tendered a contract and ditto for the Pangilinan side. Cone has been adamant of the super salary these teams give out. Still the most roaring news is Cone’s resurfacing with the B-Meg Llamados. There are other rumors that Cone will replace Rajko Toroman as Smart-Gilas coach. There are also statements running around that Cone will coach in the UAAP.

Tim Cone has said that he has been married to the Alaska organization longer than he’s been married to his wife. He also said that nothing will overshadow the relationships you build with the way Cone settled his release amicably, I will not be surprised if this isn’t the last time we’ll see the legendary mentor being part of the Alaska community. As much as it pains me to see him go... or switch allegiances, the fact of the matter is that Tim Cone one of the best ever.

Like I said, E. Cow is sad right now.

Game over!


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