When it comes to scoring, there is no question a hotshot like Carlo Lastimosa will always part of the conversation — whatever the level of basketball.
But in his Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational powered by TM debut on Wednesday, December 15, he did a lot more than just carrying the offensive load.
The former St. Benilde Blazer finished with an all-around stat line of 14 points, two rebounds, four assists and a steal in under 23 minutes of play to help the Manila Stars upend the GenSan Warriors, 75-65.
More importantly, he was a team-high plus-18, steadying the ship right when the Gerald Anderson-led Warriors were making a comeback attempt towards the latter parts of the match.
Later after the game, Stars head coach Cholo Villanueva highlighted the importance of having someone like Lastimosa in the squad, not only for his scoring, but also his leadership.
“It’s very big for us. He’s the leader of this team. He was making the right plays at the start of the game. There were defensive schemes for him and he was just making the right plays. And when it’s time to take over the game, he knows,” Villanueva said.
The former PBA draftee who saw stints with the Barako Bull, NLEX, Kia, and Blackwater franchises opened up as well about his bigger role for the club composed primarily of ex-UAAP and NCAA mainstays, where the main focus is his leadership.
“Before ng start pa lang ng season na ito, nag-uusap na kami about the system, na hindi ko kailangan umiskor nang bente o trenta, so mas less trabaho,” Lastimosa, who missed the first couple of Manila games because of a strained groin, shared.
“Siyempre, ‘yung system naman ni coach, equal opportunity kami. May mga time siguro na mas marami talaga akong ititira dahil I get my rhythm there.”
Lastimosa’s teammate, former San Beda Red Lion Dan Sara, understands the responsibilities that come with the role.
“Okay naman (siya as a leader), nakikita namin sa game, sa tune-ups. Alam naman natin Carlo is a pure scorer. Kung kailangan naman talaga namin ng scorer, pupunta kami sa kaniya. And while he isn’t that much vocal, he is more of an action guy,” Sara mentioned.
“Ginagawa niya, at sumusunod kami. And ‘yun nga, napagusapan rin namin ni coach Cholo at ni Carlo na kami ‘yung medyo nakatungtong ng pro even before so kami talaga ang magle-lead.”
Sara is also wary of the competition format for the on-going tournament. At 2-1, he knows the Stars couldn’t afford any more setbacks, and they have taken the initiative as the capital city squad’s more veteran players.
“Bawal maging complacent kasi it’s a short league. Dapat, kung puwede idiin, didiin kami para lahat makalaro at magkakumpiyansa for the future games,” he said. “Kailangan talaga namin magprepare dahil we are at 2-1 and we can’t afford to lose our other games.”
And from what Villanueva saw in his leader’s much-delayed debut, it is an encouraging sign for the Stars not only in the present tournament but also in future conferences to come.
“It’s not like the Carlo Lastimosa before where he is just scoring and scoring. When it’s time to facilitate, he knows how to facilitate down. When it’s time to take over, he’s trying to score and bring more energy to the team,” Villanueva closed. “Carlo does a lot for us. Wherever he goes, he makes the right plays and he starts taking over the game with those plays.”
Photos from Chooks-to-Go MPBL
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