Cone finds Ginebra fan support "almost" like supporting Gilas

Fans clad in white Ginebra championship shirts filled the FilOil Flying V Centre.
By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Tim Cone is the PBA's winningest coach, bagging 19 pennants in a 27-year career with three clubs.

But for him, his latest championship is something very special in terms of fan support.

"[The support of the Ginebra fans] is just at another level. For 27 years, I've never seen anything like this before," Cone told some sportswriters on Sunday, when Ginebra threw out a grand fans day to celebrate its successful PBA Governors' Cup title conquest.

The fans of the league's "crowd darlings" flocked the FilOil Flying V Centre to join them in celebrating their first PBA title since 2008 and ninth overall. This is also Cone's first title with the Barangay.

On the extent of how passionate the Ginebra faithfuls are, Cone said, "It's almost like you're the national team coach, 'coz the whole country's eyes are upon you and they have great expectations.... I really feel the love and support."

Cone, who sees the said crowd support as "a burden for the players," has already experienced national team coaching, steering the "Centennial Team" to the Jones Cup championship and a bronze medal in the 1998 Asian Games.

Despite all his raves about the Ginebra fan support, he reiterated that there is nothing to take away from the fans of the first two teams where he became the head coach, Alaska and Star.

"The Alaska fans are as loyal as you can be. The Purefoods fans were really sweet. They were nice to us. They went through our ups and downs," Cone evaluated the said fanbases.

Summarizing Ginebra's championship feat, he said, "For the first time, we were able to make that burden an advantage. I'm just happy that we were able to make everybody happy."

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