Tim Cone says sorry after remarks about Balti's Gilas availability sparks controversy

New Gilas coach Tim Cone clarified that he had no idea why Balti Baltazar had not yet been called up again to the national team. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Tim Cone took to X to apologize after his remark about Balti Baltazar's availability for Gilas Pilipinas became the subject of heated discussions for the past couple of days.

In a lengthy tweet on Saturday, Cone said that he didn't mean it when he told reporters two days before that the Pampanga Giant Lantern was not interested at all in accepting a Gilas call-up.

"I apologize to Justine Baltazar for my hasty remarks regarding his exclusion from the World Cup pool. I did not mean to infer that he didn't want to play for Gilas, but rather I was told that we (someone from the SBP--not sure who) called him or his representatives and he was not available," Cone said.

Baltazar and Pampanga head coach Delta Pineda vehemently denied on Friday that the six-foot-nine forward didn't want to join Gilas at all, even claiming that the SBP never called them up regarding his availability.

Both Baltazar and Pineda insisted that the former was ready to commit to the national team if he got the invite.

Cone admitted that he had no idea why Baltazar was given a pass, and he also said that he had yet to meet him in person.

"Whether he had reasons for not joining us, or if there was a miscommunication, or whether he was actually not called at all, I do not know because I was not part of the process to contact him, and I spoke out of order in the press conference. I loved watching Justine play in La Salle but have not met the young man, nor have I met or spoken to Mr. Pineda. But to both, I apologize," Cone further said.

He then clarified that the Gilas coaching staff would have loved to see Baltazar with the national team if he gets called up.

"I wanted to mention at the time of the press conference how much we had thought of him joining the pool. The kid can play!" Cone's statement concluded.

The SBP is expected to reveal the Gilas pool for the Asian Games with the first practice set on Monday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno