Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone has come out once more to invite the public for Thursday’s (September 14) joint practice between the national men’s team and its women’s counterpart at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The gate to the government-owned sports facility will be opened to the fans at 4 p.m., Cone said in an earlier statement posted on his Twitter account.
“No, we wouldn’t play the women’s team in a game,” Cone said laughing, minutes after Gilas wrapped up its third day of training Wednesday for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China set September 23 to October 8.
The basketball competitions are scheduled from September 26 to October 6 in two venues: the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium and Zhejiang University Zijingang Gymnasium.
“Basically, we’ll come out on the court, they’re gonna take half, we’re gonna take half. We’ll come out and stretch together and do some shooting drills together,” Cone said of the joint session.
“Hopefully it’ll be a fun thing. It’s not gonna be too serious, and we’ll try to make it entertaining for the fans, try to interact with them a little bit.
“And then after we’re done, we’re gonna spend 15-20 minutes going and greeting the fans, whoever decides to come. Hopefully we can keep it organized. That’s really the plan.”
Cone, who led the Philippine team to its last podium finish in the Asian Games in 1998 when the Centennial Team won the bronze medal in Bangkok, said the idea emanated from a desire to help the Gilas Women prepare for the Asiad.
“It’s just kinda helping to promote the women’s team and supporting them,” Cone said. “When we get there (Hangzhou), they’re gonna support us and we’re gonna support them in the games.”
A low turnout for the joint practice will not be a damper, said Cone.
“If nobody comes, that’s fine. We’re just gonna hang out with the girls. If someone wants to come and watch, it’s great. Just felt it’s an opportunity for people to come and see both teams, interact with them; it might be fun.”
Referring to the Gilas Women as “kindred spirits,” Cone said: “We just want to have time with them. They’re gonna have their expectations [in the Asian Games], and we’ll have our expectations, hopefully we can help each other out.”
The good vibes between the two national teams reached a peak when both squads won the gold medal during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila, and when members of the women’s team joined Gilas Pilipinas on the podium to celebrate after the men’s team beat host Cambodia in gold medal play in early 2023.
“We then had a beautiful dinner after the game [in Cambodia], just great,” Cone said.
The PBA’s most successful coach also has glowing words for Gilas Women coach Pat Aquino.
“I love watching Coach Pat coach the team,” Cone said. “I think he’s an awesome coach, and he gets the most out of those girls. And the girls are fun to be around. There’s a lot of funny interaction between them and us. Our guys and their girls get along pretty well together.”