MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone of the 2014 PBA Grand Slam winner San Mig Coffee said that is has been his privilege to be pitted in a coaching war with Rain or Shine’s Yeng Guiao.
The just concluded PBA Governors’ Cup finals became a battlefield for both coaches and Cone, now an 18-time PBA champion, couldn’t hide his admiration for his coaching rival.
“We kept talking in all of our huddles, and during all of our pre-game talk and during our practices, we kept saying that this team (Rain or Shine) will not crack, they're not gonna fall apart on you. you have to keep going at them, going at them, they won't stop playing the way they're gonna play, they're not gonna change,” Cone said after the Coffee Mixers closed out the Elasto Painters in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
“They've got so much trust and belief in their system and I tell you what, that all comes from Coach Yeng.”
The best-of-five series has been a see-saw battle for both squads with San Mig taking the opener with a come-from-behind 104-101 win. Arizona Reid led Rain or Shine to a Game 2 victory before the Coffee Mixers came back with a 78-69 win in the third installment of their title joust.
Guiao made some adjustments with their tactics and enabled the Elasto Painters to manhandle San Mig, 88-79, to tie the series and force a do-or-die Game 5.
Even while facing an impending defeat during the winner-take-all, Guiao’s wards refused to simply go away.
“That what makes that team special because he's a special coach,” said Cone. “It's just an honor to go up against him, really. I know he'd probably say the same things on me but I know it's just the reverse.”
Cone entered the league just about the same time Guiao started coaching in the PBA in 1990. The American coach has been with Alaska from 1989 until he moved to San Mig Coffee in 2011.
Guiao, on the other hand, started coaching for Swift before moving later on to Red Bull and Burger King. In 2010, he signed up with Rain or Shine.
“We've been together for a long, long time so it's a special battle when I go up against Coach Yeng,” said Cone.