Jan 24, 2023

TNT vs Phoenix: Two teams starting quests under new coaches

The TNT Tropang Giga start redemption drive under interim coach Jojo Lastimosa as they meet a Phoenix Super LPG side that also kicks off a campaign under a new mentor in Jamike Jarin.

The Tropang Giga and the Fuel Masters slug it out in the 5:45 p.m. mainer as the PBA Governors Cup swings over to the Smart Araneta Coliseum for Day 2 of the season-ending tourney Wednesday.

Lastimosa is tasked a double duty as team manager and bench chieftain at TNT as Chot Reyes is now to focus his attention at Gilas Pilipinas with the 2023 FIBA World Cup a few months away. Before that, there's Window 6 of the FIBAWC qualifiers in February and the Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In his first foray into head coaching, Lastimosa will be backed by Serbian coach Lale Gorunovic, appointed as active coaching consultant at TNT while also helping out at Gilas.

Lastimosa and Gorunovic are teaming up as the Smart/PLDT franchise eyes redemption from a poor 11th-place finish in the recent Commissioner's Cup.

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Depleted by injuries, the Tropa were good for only four wins in the mid season tourney ruled by Barangay Ginebra with a victory in a deciding Game 7 in the finale versus the visiting Bay Area Dragons.

The Phoenix Fuel Masters did better with a 6-7 showing in what turned out to be their farewell conference with former coach Topex Robinson.

With Robinson opting not to sign a new deal with Phoenix, Jarin has got the opportunity to take the rein as the Fuel Masters continue search for a major breakthrough with returning import DuVaughnn Maxwell.

TNT is among the teams unveiling a new import in Jalen Hudson, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward coming from the Hapoel Galil Elyon team in the Israeli league.

He played college ball with Virginia Tech and Florida, and suited up with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA Summer League.

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A key trade recruit for TNT is 6-foot-7 center Justin Chua. (SB)