Jojo Lastimosa, who once struck big against Ginebra, preaches the value of being aggressive against the crowd favourites.

TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa.  -PBA images

TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa. -PBA images

They were coming out on the field late in the fourth, playing on the line, a true “Five to Die” before the phrase was even coined.

These were the Alaska Aces of the 1990s. Their no-nonsense, hands-on approach to dismantling teams provided a stark contrast to the exuberance they often appeared in whenever they battled rival Barangay Ginebra.

Jojo Lastimosa can still remember that noise.

Bozer: Mockers. The fans scream at him every time he goes out for a clutch jumper that hinges on the balance.

He remembers how loud they could get.

“I told my players that the noise of the crowd when you play against Ginebra pales in comparison to the noise and the crowd before,” he told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

He also remembers their silence.

Dreaded starting point

Jojo Lastimosa (left) and Tim Cohn have won several championships together with Alaska.  - AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Jojo Lastimosa (left) and Tim Cohn have won multiple championships
Along with Alaska. – AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Lastimosa was part of coach Tim Cone’s formidable Alaska starting unit that engaged Barangay Ginebra in several heated battles in the 90s. That unit included Johnny Abarrientos, Bong Hawkins, Poch Juinio and Jeffrey Cariaso or Kenneth Duremdes. It was Lastimosa, however, who had a penchant for hitting shots in the fourth quarter that would have silenced the Ginebra side of the field.

“You never forget moments like that when you hit big shots against Ginebra and the crowd goes silent,” Lastimosa said.

When he was there, at this moment he enjoyed the opportunity.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than hitting a big shot that calms the crowd down,” Lastimosa said. “My take on Ginebra was that you should always be fearless and defiant.”

The Ginebra fans were not only fueling the Kings at the highest level, they were also feeding Lastimosa some much needed calm.

“I always felt it was fun to hear the jokes. “Bozers calmed me down,” Lastimosa said. “When I start listening to them, I’m more locked in, more focused.”

As much as the Ginebra crowd hated Lastimosa’s dream-crushing abilities, the current TNT coach said he never felt animosity towards those fans.

“I never wanted to make it personal. I just want to compete against them because playing against Ginebra has always been difficult. If you’re playing against a team that’s not as tough as Ginebra, a team that you know you can beat, where’s the challenge?”

Memorable meetings

Lastimosa, now 59, is decades removed from those memorable encounters with the Gin Kings, and even with his wealth of experience moving forward at that “pivotal absorption moment,” he tries not to elaborate on those fights.

“I try to convey that defiance, that fearlessness, but I also try not to talk too much about myself. I’m just celebrating it,” he said as his team prepares to take on Ginebra in Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Easter Sunday.

And fate could not have written a better finals debut for Lastimosa. Cohn, his longtime coach with the Aces, will lead the Gin Kings this time around.

“I feel nostalgic, but I try not to be too emotional about it, to be honest,” he said. “The final itself is already a big problem. You don’t make it to finals all the time. Not every team gets here.”

This is a new era now. Lastimosa isn’t going to take clutch jumpers anymore. This TNT squad is battling Ginebra with motivation of its own.

“The players are ready. They deserve all the credit that we are here and they are motivated because we didn’t do well last time,” he said.

Still, he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a flurry of gossip directed at him. They will most likely come from those who remember the terror and despair that Lastimosa drove out of them with every big shot.

“Those fans [from before]they remember,” he said.


Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.

Your subscription is successful.

Read Next

Don’t miss the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to news, download before 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints or inquiries, please contact us.

Source link