Coach Jolas: ‘Next man up’


TNT head coach Jojo Lastimosa’s not about to embrace momentum as an advantage in Game 5 of the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup Finals series set Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“It’s hard to keep momentum when you think you have momentum…when you don’t,” Lastimosa told BusinessMirror on Tuesday. “Whatever happens just happens. We will just prepare the hardest we can.”

Instead, Lastimosa’s on to a “next man up” mantra, one that obviously helped the Tropang Giga win Game 4 by a mile, 116-104 on Sunday night when the team didn’t get double-digit contributions from Roger Pogoy, who sat on the bench nursing a fractured hand.

“Bank on who you got. If somebody goes down with an injury, we rely on the next man up mentality,” he said. “We use that as our rallying point, like motivating the next players to play for those who are not there for us because we have players who are capable of stepping up.”

Players capable of stepping up Lastimosa had plenty of on Sunday night when TNT jumped the gun on Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and babied double-digit advantages the rest of the way to get the pendulum swinging back to their side in the series.

Best Import winner Rondae Hollis-Jefferson again led the Tropang Giga in Game 4 with 36 points and 19 rebounds, but it was a tremendous local support that not only scored big time, but shattered all defensive plans Ginebra coach Tim Cone prepared in his arsenal.

Veteran guard Jayson Castro had 17 points, Mikey Williams and Kib Montalbo made 16 each and Calvin Oftana 16 for the Tropang Giga who are targeting the franchise’s first-ever Governors’ Cup crown.

Hollis-Jefferson, the certified National Basketball Association player who’s playing inspired as he eyes his first professional title, credits preparation as a key to winning.

“As long as these guys do what they have to do these next two days, coaches included, locked in and focused on game plan and adjustments on what we need to do,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s win by any means necessary and I’m sure we’ll be there.”

Lastimosa also commended his defensive players—Matt Rosser-Ganuelas, JP Erram, Paul Varilla and Glenn Khobunting—for stepping up and puzzling the Gin Kings on what defensive effort they had to put up in Game 4.

Cone? He’s no 25-time PBA champion and two-time grand slam coach for nothing.

“We will get ready for them on Wednesday,” Cone said.

Game 5 starts at 5:45 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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