April 02, 2023

Jolas gets winning debut in battle of first-time coaches

Jolas gets winning debut in battle of first-time coaches

Long-time assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa got his coaching career off to a winning start, piloting the TNT Tropang Giga to a 123-119 victory over the Phoenix Fuel Masters.

Jolas leaned on a total team effort from the Tropang Giga, highlighted by the impressive debut of Jalen Hudson, who posted all-around numbers of 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Five other Tropang Giga finished in double figures, with RR Pogoy and Calvin Oftana scoring 21 and 17, respectively, and Jayson Castro, Justin Chua, and Kelly Williams all chipping in 10 apiece. Jaydee Tungcab and Mikey Williams added 9 each, as 11 TNT players saw action, including 8 who logged at least 10 minutes of play.

That was all by design, with Lastimosa looking to spread out the minutes.

“We wanted to rotate a lot of people because wanted a more pressure-type defense,” said Jolas in the post-game presser. “But sometimes it created a problem, because sometimes we denied too much that we left penetrators without any help. So, that’s one thing we need to correct.”

This win didn’t come easy, not with three key players — Poy Erram, Brian Heruela, and Ryan Reyes — out with injuries. And definitely not against a team that has always been a tough out, even against the league’s best. The game, in fact, was close throughout the first three quarters, with TNT only getting some separation early in the fourth after starting the quarter on a 15-5 run.

“We scored more than how I expected them to score. But we have to look at the defensive side because what happened was, last conference, I think the defense was suffering, and we were giving up too many points,” said Lastimosa. “Actually, that did happen in the first half. We gave up 60 points, and they [Fuel Masters] were just looking like a layup line . . .”

Lastimosa, though, made key adjustments just in time, including employing some zone. And the result was a winning debut for the long-time assistant, who was matched up with Jamike Jarin — himself a first-time coach in the PBA.