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Tiebreaker Times


Kim Aurin makes most of surprise start for TNT

TNT head coach Jojo Lastimosa sang praises for Kim Aurin as the rookie guard proved his worth and ultimately helped the team catch the last trip to the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup playoffs on Sunday night.

The cage legend was proud to see the young gun impress in his first career start, so much so that the latter, he believes, may have just earned himself a bigger opportunity with the Tropang Giga after showing out versus Phoenix.

The Perpetual product finished with 18 points on 50-percent shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from deep, in 21 minutes as he provided the unlikely spark in their 116-96 conquest to complete the eight-team quarterfinal picture.

“We gave him a six-month contract. And now, we’re looking at a guy who’s probably gonna play a little bit more. He deserves what he’s getting right now,” Lastimosa said after the match at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

The veteran mentor and his staff gave Aurin a starting role days before their duel versus the Fuel Masters, as they felt that TNT needed more scoring with some of their key cogs like Roger Pogoy still far from their old form.

Pogoy did return to action after being away for months due to myocarditis, but that hardly affected Aurin in helping deliver the crucial win.

“We talked about starting him because we’re looking for a scorer. Napapansin namin na ‘yung sa guard spot namin, wala pa si RR, kailangan namin ng scorers off the bench,” shared Lastimosa.

“And si Kim, that’s one of his strongest skills. We know that he can score,” he added of Aurin, whose previous conference-high was 11 points in a come-from-behind 113-97 win over NLEX last December 13 in the same venue.

The Perpetual product admitted that he was surprised to have been entrusted with such a role, but nonetheless embraced it and, eventually, repaid the trust.

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“Nung isang araw, nagulat ako na first five ako. Inano ko agad sa isip ko, sa utak ko na kailangan maka-contribute ako sa team kasi yung tiwala na binigay ni Coach Jolas, kailangan suklian,” said Aurin.

Still, Lastimosa is hoping to see the 26-year-old continue putting in the work and hone his game further, particularly on the defensive end.

“Problema lang ni Kim, minsan sa defense, nawawala siya,” he said. “He’s still trying to get into the system of how we do things defensively.

“There was a point in the game where I yanked him out because he made a mistake. But ang maganda roon he was able to respond, and he became a little bit more aggressive defensively,” Lastimosa furthered.

But he knows that Aurin will do so, believing that his rook has a chip on his shoulder, especially after being left unsigned after the recent PBA Draft.

Aurin was the 34th overall pick by Barangay Ginebra but was not signed by the same franchise he played for in the PBA 3×3 for multiple conferences.

“Pinulot lang namin ‘to e, bumibili lang ng suka sa kanto,” Lastimosa joked. “Si Kim nakita ko siya sa 3×3, kasi nanonood ako ng mga games nila.

“I saw some potential there and I just hope he continues to work hard,” he added.

“He has a lot to prove, na ang daming umayaw sa kanya.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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