PBA Governors' Cup

Jojo Lastimosa, Mikey Williams mark turnaround of rocky relationship with PBA title

Delfin Dioquino

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Jojo Lastimosa, Mikey Williams mark turnaround of rocky relationship with PBA title

FINALS MVP. Mikey Williams is a PBA champion anew.

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Jojo Lastimosa and Mikey Williams manage to settle their differences and play key roles as TNT captures its first-ever PBA Governors' Cup crown

MANILA, Philippines – It was not too long ago when TNT head coach and team manager Jojo Lastimosa punished star guard Mikey Williams for skipping Tropang Giga practices without notice.

Now, they are both PBA champions anew.

Lastimosa and Williams managed to settle their differences and played key roles as TNT captured its first-ever PBA Governors’ Cup crown on Friday, April 21, denying Barangay Ginebra of a three-peat in the season-ending tiff.

“There was really some bad animosity between the two of us and we were able to talk about it,” said Lastimosa.

An assistant coach at NLEX for eight years, Lastimosa joined the flagship franchise of the MVP Group in June last year at a time when the Tropang Giga were in the thick of signing Williams to a new contract.

Williams inked a three-year deal a month later.

Their relationship, however, went through a rough patch when Lastimosa cracked the whip on Williams in October as the Filipino-American standout continued to miss practices without notice.

Lastimosa suspended Williams without pay for a week and publicly called out the Rookie of the Year for “acting like he is on another level.”

Putting the past behind him, Williams rejoined TNT, although he needed to adjust at the start of the Governors’ Cup after the Tropang Giga named Lastimosa as their concurrent head coach.

Lastimosa took over the head coaching reins in a move that allowed Chot Reyes to focus on his Gilas Pilipinas duties as head coach and program director.

“Two alphas are going to butt heads,” said Williams, who played his first four conferences in the PBA under Reyes.

“Some of the things that we were doing, I was not happy with in the beginning. But when I started just leaving it up to him… things just started taking off from there.”

Crowned the Finals MVP, Williams let loose in the title-clinching Game 6, unloading a season-high 38 points off nine three-pointers as TNT wrapped up the best-of-seven finals with a nail-biting 97-93 win.

That scoring masterclass paved the way for Lastimosa to clinch his first title as a head coach after the PBA legend won 10 as a player and three as an assistant coach.

“He started to let me be, I started to understand him as well as his coaching style,” said Williams.

“Not really knowing Jolas for too long, I did not really know what to expect, how to maneuver or operate in certain situations. But we found a way to get to where we need to be to close out this series.”

Lastimosa said he communicated with Williams and the rest of his charges the same way he wanted to be coached back when he still played.

“As a coach, one-time coach, you just need communication with the players. And the players will understand. They will always understand.” – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.