TNT head coach Jojo Lastimosa likes his team’s chances against Ginebra as the two powerhouses clash in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
But at the same time, the cage legend believes that the Tropang Giga are coming into the best-of-7 series beginning April 9 as the underdogs against the reigning champions, although it’s something that he’s fully embracing.
“I have nothing to lose. Our team has nothing to lose,” said Lastimosa, who will be up against former mentor Tim Cone in his first Finals trip as head coach.
“He’s been there, he’s done that. And everything’s riding for them, and everybody’s expecting that Ginebra will win this championship anyway.
“We’re only here probably to spoil the party and hopefully, we can come up with a good game as we did in this series. We got Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson] on my side, so I’m okay with it,” the 59-year-old continued.
TNT set up the title bout after finishing off Meralco in the Semis’ Game 4, 107-92, Friday night to continue what has been an impressive campaign.
And beginning Easter Sunday, the Tropa will be taking on a team they had previously beaten in the elimination round by way of 114-105 decision last March 17 to clinch the top seed with a 10-1 record.
They did take advantage of the win-once quarterfinal incentive that comes along with a Top 4 finish in the conference, downing Phoenix Super LPG for a quick route to the semis, where they’d eliminate previous finalists Bolts.
Ginebra, on the other hand, settled for the third seed following that defeat with an 8-3 slate, but has since been on a fiery streak.
After taking care of business versus NLEX, the Kings would sweep San Miguel Beer, 3-0, in the semis to enter the Finals unbeaten — all that, despite missing stars Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio.
That’s why it would be understandable for Lastimosa and Co. to refuse to look at their elimination round win as an edge whatsoever.
“Nothing. Other than that was the one win that brought us the twice-to-beat and the No. 1 seed. As I said, any win against Ginebra, especially in the eliminations, counts for nothing other than just one win,” he said.
Nonetheless, the Tropang Giga are coming into the championship clash confident with how they have been playing as of late.
“But going into this series, I like my chances,” said Lastimosa. “Our players are playing well. Maybe you guys know this, that we’ve been winning games during our streak with scoring and right now, we’re defending well.
“We need to play defense and offense here in this championship series.I think the guys are going to be ready.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.