PBA: Historic Jojo Lastimosa in disbelief after accomplishing 'something really nice' | Inquirer Sports
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PBA: Historic Jojo Lastimosa in disbelief after accomplishing ‘something really nice’

/ 11:46 PM April 21, 2023

TNT coaches Jojo Lastimosa and Chot Reyes. –Marlo Cueto/INQUIRER.net

TNT coaches Jojo Lastimosa and Chot Reyes. –Marlo Cueto/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–Jojo Lastimosa felt being in dreamland the moment the final buzzer sounded confirming TNT as the newest king of the PBA Governors’ Cup.

“It’s incredible. It’s unbelievable,” Lastimosa said after the Tropang Giga’s title-clinching 97-93 win over Barangay Ginebra in Friday’s sixth game of the series at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Even when the buzzer sounded, when I know that we already won it I felt like ‘My God, is this really happening?’”

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Lastimosa made history as the first coach to win a championship in his first conference since 2003, when Joel Banal also guided TNT to the all-Filipino crown over Chot Reyes and Coca-Cola.

Reyes stepped aside to focus on Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for the Fiba World Cup, allowing Lastimosa, already the Tropang Giga team manager, to call the shots, at least for the season-ending conference.

But Lastimosa, who said that he was the only one willing enough to accept the role, had one condition when the offer was made by TNT higher ups.

“I always kept saying that I’m not supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to be coaching this,” Lastimosa continued. “My deal was that if I’m gonna coach, I’ll coach. I’m not gonna be just a mouthpiece. And [TNT management] agreed to it.”

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The Tropang Giga celebrate their latest championship. —MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

The Tropang Giga celebrate their latest championship. —MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

That doesn’t mean that Lastimosa is hogging credit.

“The good thing about this setup is that (assistant coaches) Josh [Reyes], Sandy [Arespacochaga], Yuri [Escueta] really know the system. Generally, it was an incredible job by the coaches.”

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Adding to Lastimosa’s rise to a champion coach was the man he and the Tropang Giga had to beat.

TNT prevailed at the expense of Tim Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history who had Lastimosa as his former player with Alaska.

Cone and Ginebra had ruled the Governors’ Cup in four of the previous five editions until TNT put a dent on that run despite being down 2-1 and dealing with injuries to Justin Chua and RR Pogoy.

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“It’s seldom [you] beat Justin Brownlee and Tim Cone in this conference,” he said. “They owned the Governors’ Cup, and if there’s somebody dethroning them, they must have done something really nice.”

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TAGS: Jojo Lastimosa, PBA Governors' Cup

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