Two new head coaches are set to get their feet wet in PBA action when TNT and Phoenix lock horns in the 2023 Governors’ Cup at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Team manager Jojo Lastimosa is making his debut as the head coach of the Tropang Giga while Jamike Jarin is also stepping into the coaching role for the Fuel Masters.
Both new tacticians aim for a winning start to their respective PBA coaching careers in the 5:45 encounter which comes after the curtain-raiser between NLEX and Blackwater.
Lastimosa, though, will be getting some help from Serbian active consultant Slavoljub Guronovic after Chot Reyes relinquished the post to focus on Gilas Pilipinas’ preparations for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The two inherited a potent roster that still has RR Pogoy, Jayson Castro, Mikey Williams, Calvin Oftana, Poi Erram, new addition Justin Chua and import Jalen Hudson.
Jarin, on the other hand, will be serving in an interim capacity for Phoenix after former head coach Topex Robinson turned down an extension to coach La Salle in the UAAP.
The Fuel Masters showed flashes of brilliance last conference where they made it to the quarterfinals behind young guns Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano. Phoenix also brought in returning import Du’Vaughn Maxwell to reinforce the team that also has Javee Mocon, RJ Jazul and Jason Perkins.
Meanwhile in the opening game, NLEX is likely to be playing without an import in its first game after having problems bringing in first choice Jonathon Simmons.
Simmons, an NBA veteran who played for Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers, is reportedly having problems getting clearance from his former team in the Chinese Basketball Association.
NLEX is already exploring other options including bringing in another import although that would force them to play all-Filipino against the Bossing.
Don Trollano, who had a splendid conference in the Commissioner’s Cup where he placed inside the Top 5 in the Best Player of the Conference race, will be tasked to lead NLEX along with the likes of Kevin Alas, Brandon Ganuela-Rosser and the returning Road Warrior in Sean Anthony.
Although obviously getting the upperhand with the import advantage in the comebacking Shawn Glover, head coach Ariel Vanguardia is not taking any chances and is still going all-out especially with the Bossing nearing their full firepower with star players returning from injury and the addition of new weapons.
Blackwater is parading new faces in its roster in Mike Digregorio, RK Ilagan and Tyrus Hill to join the returning Baser Amer, Jvee Casio and Joshua Torralba who were all saddled by injuries last conference.