For Tim Cone, winning a second Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) grand slam is the most unforgettable moment in his 25-year career as a coach.
Cone achieved the feat by guiding the San Mig Coffee Mixers to a cliffhanger 92-89 win over Rain or Shine in Game Five of the finals for the 39th PBA Governor’s Cup on Wednesday night.
The first of Cone’s 17 championships came in 1989 with the Alaska Aces. He would eventually win 13 titles for the team, including his first grand slam in 1996.
“I have to sit at home in a quiet room with the lights off and close my eyes, let this thing sink in,” the 56-year-old Cone, who was born in Oregon, USA, said on Thursday.
“This didn’t seem possible, even for me. Eighteen years ago was such a special moment and I told the guys, you only get to do that once in your life and me and [assistant coach]Johnny [Abarrientos], we’ve been able to do it twice. That’s just two blessings,” he said.
Abarrientos played point guard for Alaska under Cone.
“I told my players, this is gonna be the best time of your life right now. This is the one you’ll always remember in your career, winning that Grand Slam. It’s a special moment for all of us,” he added.
The victory gave the San Miguel franchise its 13th championship since joining the league in 1988, tying Crispa as the fourth winningest team.
It was also San Mig’s fourth straight and fifth crown under Cone. The Coffee Mixers join Crispa, San Miguel Beer and Alaska Aces in the elite club of grand slam winners. But Cone stands alone as the only coach to win it twice.
Other grand slam winners were Baby Dalupan with the Crispa Redmanizers in 1976, Tommy Manotoc also with Crispa in 1983, and Norman Black with San Miguel Beer in 1989.
“This championship, this four-peat, this Grand Slam hasn’t hit me yet. I’m overwhelmed by it. Every time that we came into a big game, I’d say this is the time. We did it again, get to a Game 7 or Game 5 or even a Game 3,” Cone said.