Jan 12, 2021

Cone believes Balanza, Salado will be impact players for Ginebra

MAJORITY of the PBA coaches are excitedly looking forward to the upcoming Draft, except perhaps for Tim Cone.

The chief tactician of Philippine Cup champion Ginebra is just being realistic about their chances considering the Kings are at the 12th spot in the drafting order.

That doesn't mean though that Cone and his staff won't be on the lookout for potential talents.

"From what I understand, this coming Draft is supposed to be a deep Draft. However, we are drafting at no. 12. It's really hard to find a true impact player at that spot. But you'll never know, this is a deep Draft so we'll take the best player available irrespective of position," Cone said.

"We will certainly use our pick very, very carefully. We've got our eyes on a couple of guys and we are hoping they will drop to where we are."

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Instead of focusing their attention on the coming Draft, Cone and his lieutenants are working on how to maximize the talents of the players they selected from last year's Draft and hopefully enable them to fit in the rotation featuring the team's young core led by Scottie Thompson and Aljon Mariano.

While Arvin Tolentino, the team's first-round draft pick last year, was given the opportunity to shine in the Philippine Cup bubble, fellow rookies Jerrick Balanza and Kent Salado were not as lucky because there was little time to prepare for the shortened tournament.

Even Art dela Cruz, who is returning from injury, wasn't able to show how fit he is.

"It was like a leap of faith for Arvin and we gave him the minutes. But we're still very, very high on Jerrick, we're very, very high on Kent and we expect these guys to be impact players down the line."

For Cone, players like Thompson and Mariano, who were both instrumental in their Drive For Five, and the team's acknowledged key players like Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar, will play a big factor in fast-tracking the development of their young talents.

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"Our team is not young. But we've got a young group of players led by Scottie and Aljon. Those guys are still very young plus you've got Arvin. We think we've got a young core that we're developing, kinda succeed the veterans that we have now like LA (Tenorio) and Joe (Devance)," said Cone. "That's how you continue your success -- keep drafting, keep building young players, and let them try to take over from the older players."

"Then, you keep the guys who are still in their prime. Stanley is still in the prime of his career. Japeth is still at the prime of his career. We still have guys who are at the prime of their careers. We'll try to use them and compliment them with younger players until they get older." (RJ)