MANILA, Philippines—Compared to Barangay Ginebra’s reasons for winning this PBA season’s Governors’ Cup, TNT’s motivation seems trivial.
The Gin Kings are trying to extend their reign in their pet conference, and they’re hoping to do so in honor of their leader LA Tenorio who has been sheltered due to colon cancer.
The Tropang Giga, meanwhile, are simply going for their first-ever Governors’ Cup in franchise history.
Interim coach Jojo Lastimosa doesn’t see it as anything less of a reason—a belief that has been reinforced recently.
“[T]hese guys aren’t happy just to be in the Finals. I didn’t feel that when we won our fourth game (against Meralco). I think the guys know that they have a higher purpose in this season and I like that thought,” he said on Monday during the championship series’ kick-off presser at Novotel Manila.
“Even with the way they talked among each other, they didn’t really celebrate that much. That’s a good sign because I know they’re not happy,” he added.
TNT dominated the elimination phase of this tournament, losing just to the NLEX Road Warriors. They captured the No. 1 seed and have been living up to that tag heading into the conference the final.
So it would be such a shame if the Tropang Giga are unable to finish with a bang.
“Being in the Finals—it’s still there to be won. And they know that coming into this [series] that they have a really good shot at this,” Lastimosa said.
But against his former coach in Alaska and against a bevy of players who are pretty much a fixture of the Gilas Pilipinas program, Lastimosa is reaching for cautious optimism.
“We also believe and understand that going up against Ginebra, you better be ready with a different kind of game. Our game in the semifinals—sorry to say—but it’s not going to be enough,” he said, alluding to a Game 2 Final Four loss to Meralco.
“We’ll have to find another gear.”
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