In light of young Blackwater guard Carlo Lastimosa’s fresh 3-year pact with the Elite, PBA legend Chito Loyzaga is convinced that the former St. Benilde can reach greater heights as long as maintains a sponge-like attitude in the pro league.
Currently serving as Blackwater’s team consultant, Loyzaga noted that Lastimosa has improved a lot since being traded by Barako Bull (now Phoenix) to Blackwater before the start of the season.
The 25-year-old Lastimosa, in fact, is averaging a PBA career-best 20.6 points in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup, emerging as the Elite’s most reliable gunner this season.
But a missed foul shot in the endgame in their recent game cost Blackwater a playoff spot in the Commissioner’s Cup, putting to waste his huge 28-point outburst in the Elite’s 124-120 overtime loss to the Phoenix Fuel Masters.
“Again, that’s (missed free throws in the endgame) a learning experience for them (Elite). You don’t get that opportunity everyday eh, and that is part of the thrill and the fun of playing the sport when you’re put in a position and the game is on the line, you need step up on the challenge,” explained Loyzaga, son of the late Philippine basketball legend Carloy “Big Difference” Loyzaga.
“Sometimes, you might not be lucky or sometimes you’re lucky, but at the end of the day, you just have to give your effort and best shot.”
Since Lastimosa is just in his third year as a pro, Loyzaga, also the current athletic director of NU, mentioned that he will be facing more challenges ahead of him.
“There’s gonna be more challenges, higher expectations and there’s a lot on the line. But I hope he realizes that this is a great opportunity for him to shine and show his game,” shared Loyzaga.
“At the end of the day, he’s still very young and he still has to sharpen his game. Now he just has to pick himself up (after a loss) kasi marami pang laro. Just always move forward and always prepare your best for that same situation can happen again,” he added.
As a team, Loyzaga feels the Elite are moving on the right track, even though the Dioceldo Sy-owned basketball squad has only had 1 playoff appearance to show since joining the PBA last season.
“You just have to realize that this is just their 2nd year so they have a lot of learning to do for them to win more games. It’s just that simple,” reiterated Loyzaga, nicknamed the “Dynamite” during his heydays as 1 of Ginebra’s top defensive ace and outside gunners.
“If most of them believe that they have already achieved something, they are mistaken. They just have to put more effort and dedication and they have to practice and sharpen their game kasi 2nd year pa lang naman nila,” he said.
“Ang masama diyan, kapag nakaka-anim na taon ka na at ganyan pa rin ang laro mo, eh may mali na talaga dun.”
With Blackwater headed to a long conference break, Loyzaga hopes the Elite will continue to work on their game as the young PBA franchise plots a strong bounce-back in the Governors Cup. — By Richard Dy