FROM one “Triangle” to another.
Although Banal had one-time been a head coach in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) himself, his association with Cone as a trusted lieutenant has been well-known that both are always connected with each other.
But following the departure of Cone, and his subsequent acceptance of the B-Meg coaching job, both will now have to go their separate ways. Banal, however, said Cone’s influence within the Aces won’t diminish, especially in relation to the Triangle Offense, a system that produced 13 championships for the franchise and tied it with the legendary Crispa Redmanizers as the second winningest team in the rich history of Asia’s pioneering professional league.
“My style is a combination of structure and unstructured systems,” said Banal, who won for Talk `N Text its first ever league championship during the 2003 All-Filipino Conference.
Even without Cone, the coach with the most number of games won in PBA annals, the Aces still kept the core of the team that won the 2009 Fiesta Cup championship, players like L.A. Tenorio, Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss, Tony de la Cruz, Mark Borboran, Samigue Eman and Brandon Cablay. Only last year, they acquired big man Jay-R Reyes, Paolo Bugia, Wesley Gonzales and Bonbon Custodio, and now rookie recruits Mac Baracael, Eric Salamat, Julius Pasculado and Ariel Mepana. Tenorio, the acknowledged heart and soul of the Aces, said in as much as the team will miss the company of their former beloved mentor, Banal is definitely an excellent choice as Cone’s replacement.
“With coach Joel, it’s practically the same system. He’s been coach Tim’s assistant for many years so adjusting is not hard for us,” said the former Ateneo star considered by many as among the top three point guards in the league today. Tenorio conceded that he’s where at his career right now due to Cone.
“It was he who molded me into the PBA player that I am right now,” he said. But come the season-opening Philippine Cup which formally kicks off on Oct. 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, there’s no question as to where and to who his loyalty will be. “We want to get the (All-Filipino) crown.
We want to show that we can do it for coach Joel,” added the cerebral Alaska playmaker. The Aces open the 37th season by testing outright the mettle of the Barangay Ginebra Kings on Oct. 9, and then plunge into action against their former coach and the Llamados in an interesting Oct. 12 encounter.