By Jerome Lagunzad
From an underrated Jose Rizal University cager to the new Heavy Bombers coach.
Gio Lasquety is making such a swift transformation after long-time JRU tactician Vergel Meneses took the backseat and offered him the keys to lead the Heavy Bombers’ title drive in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup that gets going next month.
“Ever since naman na player pa lang siya, magaling na siya bumasa ng laro,” said Meneses, 48, said of Lasquety, whom he started to groom as a future tactician in the course of the Heavy Bombers’ campaign in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tourney.
“Tumutulong na siya sa amin ng coaching staff ko in terms of making our gameplan. Parang playing assistant coach na rin siya nung last NCAA season. Nakikita ko na may future ‘yung bata sa coaching (scene).”
Good for 3.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game during his fifth and final tour of duty with the Heavy Bombers, Lasquety is in for a promising debut but a tough work remains cut out for him.
With top gunner Teytey Teodoro no longer around, Lasquety will have reliable forward John Gropse, a second-round selection in this year’s PBA Rookie Draft, the and spitfire guard Paolo Pontejos at his disposal.
Backing them up are skipper Jed Mendoza and fellow holdovers MJ Dela Virgen, Aaron Bordon and Abdul Sawat while former Ateneo stalwart Kris Porter and ex-Emilio Aguinaldo College standout John Tayongtong are also in the fold.
Providing the needed inside presence are Cameroonian Michael Mvogo, 6-foot-6 Jhumark Silvarez, 6-foot-5 Leonard Esguerra and 6-foot-3 Marvy Ramos.
Meanwhile, four-time NCAA champion coach Frankie Lim is making his return to the collegiate ranks by joining Perpetual Help as its new consultant.