MANILA, Philippines – Alex Compton may have been slightly apprehensive when Tim Cone asked him to observe the Philippine national team's practice on Monday night at the Meralco Gym, but there was no way he would turn down the invitation.
Compton, the former Alaska Aces head coach, was clad in old versions of Gilas Pilipinas garb when he took notes on how the team was performing, with just over a month to go before they competed in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
"He (Cone) said come on down, so I came down," said Compton. "Sabi ko, I'll be there."
"I'm like, I hope I don't look weird," he admitted. "I'm gonna put on my old Gilas shirt and my old Gilas shorts. I hope they're not, 'Trying hard ka lang d'yan.'"
Compton, who was part of the Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff in 2015 and 2016, took heart in one of the national team's old mantras.
"There was a phrase for a long time: once Gilas, always Gilas," he said. "So, anything to help."
Compton helped by serving as a pair of "fresh eyes" in practice, although he will not be part of the coaching staff in any official capacity. It was not for lack of trying: Cone revealed that he asked Compton if he could join them, but Compton had previous commitments.
The former Alaska coach made it clear that he had no intention of joining Cone's staff.
"No, no, no," he said. "I'm just here, like Coach Tim said, just for some fresh eyes, tell him what I see. I think these guys got it. He got it."
As for what he saw in Gilas Pilipinas, Compton said that he "liked everything that Coach Tim was doing on offense," which was the focus of Monday night's practice.
The question, he said, is how well the Gilas players can master that offense, given their limited time to prepare. Like previous iterations of the national team, Cone's squad is limited to once-a-week training sessions, although they will have some tune-up games in the coming weeks as well.
"When you're running a team, you have two-a-day sometimes, you have all year, you work on something, guys have more time to grow. This is gonna be compressed," noted Compton.
"We'll see what their retention is. I'll come back next Monday and I'll see how these guys do," he added.
What cannot be questioned is the amount of talent that Cone has at his disposal. The multi-titled mentor tapped the core of Barangay Ginebra and added some of the PBA's best, including reigning five-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo.
"There's some good talent on the floor. There's some really good talent on the floor, and I'm excited to watch the team," said Compton.
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