MANILA, Philippines—TNT’s loss to Meralco on Sunday in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals has kept the top-seeded Tropang Giga from charting a short route to the championship series.
But as far as Jojo Lastimosa is concerned, the 124-117 overtime loss in Antipolo City could also be the nudge his charges need at this stage of the tournament.
“We did not play well overall and we did a lot of out-of-character plays,” the interim coach told the Inquirer on the eve of Game 3 at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao that dangles control of the short best-of-five series.
“I hope the loss would wake us up from being in cruise control,” he said.
Before that Game 2 defeat, TNT only lost once throughout the season-ending conference. In February, the Tropang Giga faltered against another corporate sibling in NLEX, 110-108, in an elimination match.
The perennial heavyweights took that loss on the chin and marched to a 10-1 mark that installed them as the top seed of the showcase.
And that poise, perhaps, is largely why Lastimosa isn’t reaching for any grand scheme ahead of the rematch which tips off at 5:45 p.m.
“We got beat on offensive rebounding, so we’re hoping to have a better rebounding effort on Game 3,” he went on.
Mikey Williams had 29 points but was hardly a factor in the fourth period, where the Bolts staged their spirited fightback. But Lastimosa wasn’t one to make a mountain out of that molehill.
“Mikey brought us back in the third quarter. He probably just got tired,” he said.
Lastimosa’s cool was a stark study of how San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent is approaching Wednesday’s curtain raiser.
With their backs against the wall, Gallent said that their stand against defending champion Barangay Ginebra will no longer be hinged on “the Xs and Os,” but on effort instead.
“We have to play with discipline, we have to play with patience. This is what I’ve told the team after the game: When we were winning we were No. 1 in assists, now wala. Now, we’re down to No. 8,” he said.
“So if you don’t share the ball … if you don’t play as a unit, we will never beat Ginebra, because we already know the [kind of] defense [they] have.”
A loss would snuff out San Miguel’s chances at snaring a second crown in this PBA season. Making the Beermen’s chances bleak is June Mar Fajardo’s timeline for return, which is only likely if the club reaches the championship series.
“I have to motivate them … so their mindset [steers clear] from vacation mode,” said Gallent. “As long as there’s a chance it’s my job to push them.”
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