Bolts fired up by MVP

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Bolts fired up by MVP
Meralco chairman, president/CEO Manny V. Pangilinan with (from left) consultant Nenad Vucinic, Meralco chief finance officer Betty Siy-Yap, coach Luigi Trillo, Chris Newsome (standing), Meralco PBA governor Atty. Bill Pamintuan and team manager Paolo Trillo.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Meralco got more than a lightning shock when the Bolts met company chairman, president/CEO Manny V. Pangilinan and drew inspiration from MVP during a recent dinner meeting at the Meralco building on Ortigas Avenue, Pasig. “I’m pumped,” said Bolts new head coach Luigi Trillo. “It may take some time but we’ll not short-cut things to get better.”

The dinner meeting came a day after the Meralco annual stockholders meeting where Pangilinan took on the added role of president/CEO aside from being chairman. The Bolts came in full force and presented MVP with a Meralco jersey No. 38, his favorite number, in a framed glass case. “MVP expressed his support for our team and mentioned he’ll also strengthen our lineup,” said Trillo. “He was happy and stayed quite longer than expected.”

Trillo, 47, succeeded Norman Black at the helm during the offseason and has so far piloted the Bolts to a 2-1 record in the PBA On Tour. Last Sunday, Meralco defeated Converge, 96-88, despite playing without Aaron Black, Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero. The Bolts recently elevated Jeff Manday from the 3x3 ranks and traded Mac Belo to Rain or Shine for Norbert Torres.

Trillo said the Bolts are building from Black’s foundation. “We’re putting in the work and playing a little different,” he said. “We’re learning together. The guys are getting used to my voice. We’re pleasantly surprised. We want to play with a quicker pace, we want our guys to read better.  We’ve had a couple of injuries at the start but that’s normal with the intensity of our practices. We think all this will translate into good things, leading up to the season opening on Oct. 15.”

Trillo said active coaching consultant Nenad Vucinic’s presence behind the scenes will be a factor in turning things around. Since entering the PBA in 2010-11, Meralco has made it to four Finals but never won a championship. Vucinic, 58, said the team is a work in progress. “We’ve got a long way to go,” said Vucinic who has coached in New Zealand, Serbia, Italy, Turkey, China, Japan, Estonia and Lebanon. “Coach Norman is still with us and continues to be a great contributor to our program. We have a lot of work to be done because as soon as you change the coaching staff and system, it requires time but the good thing is the players are very responsive.”

Trillo said he subbed for Black by accident during the last Philippine Cup and his stint as the interim head coach was highlighted by a quarterfinal win over Ginebra. “The monkey was off our back,” he said. “It was our first win in a series over Ginebra and even if it was a best-of-three, I consider it a turning point. We like the underdog tag. We believe in our guys. We’ll build with what we have. No egos. With coach Nenad’s example, great leaders bring out leaders in everyone. We’re not taking any day off at practice.”

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