MANILA, Philippines - Luigi Trillo said yesterday he’s looking forward to the next chapter in his basketball career and although there is no certainty as to what the future holds, the former Alaska coach hopes to get an opportunity to prove himself deserving of another chance.
It’s been a month since Trillo left Alaska after a 1-1 record in the PBA Governors Cup. He avoided speaking to media until finally, breaking his silence in an exclusive Star interview. Trillo said he’s now ready to move on.
Trillo, 38, was the youngest PBA coach this conference. And for capturing the Commissioner’s Cup trophy last season, he was named the PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year. “I’ll always be thankful to Mr. (Wilfred) Uytengsu for the opportunity he gave me to grow with the Alaska organization,” said Trillo. “I was with Alaska for 15 years, 13 in coach Tim Cone’s staff. With coach Tim, we won four championships. Those were unforgettable moments. When I became head coach, I was lucky that Mr. Uytengsu was my mentor, teaching me the values of hard work and discipline.”
Jobless at the moment, Trillo said he’s enjoying time with his wife Ria and their four children whose ages range from 1 to 10. “I watch all the PBA games on TV,” he said. “I want to keep my mind working. I miss the game. I got used to keeping a busy schedule. My knees are bad so I can’t jog too long. But I’m in the market for a bike right now.”
Trillo was recently asked to join the TV5 coverage panel as an analyst. “I’m seriously thinking about it but I’m worried that I won’t do well since I’ll be compared with the veterans in the group,” he said. “I did TV work before for the UAAP, NCAA, PBL and the PBA D-League so at least, I can bank on some experience. Basketball is my life forever and I’d really like to stay connected to the game.”
Trillo said leaving Alaska was a humbling experience. “I know I still have a lot to learn,” he said. “I need to grow and improve. As you get older, you realize how important it is to value relationships. You also realize the importance of tenure, support and security to care for your family. Moving is part of the job in coaching. My joy is being able to pass and share knowledge. My heart is into coaching. I’ve experienced tough times as a coach. In my first two years with Adamson, I was the laughing stock and didn’t win a game. In my third year, we won three then the next year, five and in my fifth, we started at 3-1 until our captain Ramil Tagupa went down with an ACL injury but we almost made it to the Final Four. We did make it to the finals of three preseason tournaments and we beat FEU at the Uni Games. In the PBL, we brought Cebuana Lhuillier to the finals in our first year but lost to Harbour Centre with Beau Belga, J. C. Intal, Ryan Arana and Jayson Castro. Our players included Doug Kramer and Ken Bono. And in 2011, Cebuana was the last to assemble a team for the PBA D-League Foundation Cup but we got to the finals against N-Lex whose players included Cliff Hodge, Chris Ellis and Calvin Abueva. Our players included Allein Maliksi who was named Best Player of the Conference and Kevin Alas. The next conference, one of our Cebuana players Vic Manuel was named MVP but I left the D-League to take over the head coaching job at Alaska.”
Trillo admitted that this season, he became stricter and challenged himself a lot more. “Each year is different and this year, I thought it was time to get on to players,” he said. “It’s nice to be nice but as head coach, I was the bad cop, telling it like it is. I was more demanding. I’m a competitive person and with the referees, I also got into it. Nothing personal. I saw how coaches do it and I thought I could do it, too. It’s an experience I’ll learn from.”
While in limbo, Trillo said he got reassuring calls from players whom he’s worked with like Maliksi, Manuel, Kramer, Bono, Jvee Casio and Cyrus Baguio. “Jvee told me things will work out and not to give up because those are things he learned from me,” he said. “Cyrus thanked me for the opportunity to grow. We’re very proud of what we accomplished at Alaska. We built a foundation for the future with Calvin, Gabby Espinas, R. J. Jazul, Vic and Jvee. We’ve had to be very creative in strengthening our lineup. Since our championship, we did only one trade to get Vic. I’m really happy for coach Alex (Compton), that he’s been able to bring Alaska to the Governors Cup semifinals with Henry (Walker) who can play multiple positions and provides balance to the team.”
Trillo said now that he’s had time to step back and rethink his career, he’s been awakened to becoming closer to God. “I’ve always carried a rosary in my pocket every day, every game,” he said. “When we won the championship last year, my dad (Joaqui) brought me to the Pink Sisters in Tagaytay to thank the Lord for the blessing. I go to Mass every week but I’m working on becoming a little more religious. My family and I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Trillo said he’s ready to take the next step forward in his coaching career. “I look up to coach Tim, coach Chot (Reyes), coach Norman (Black), coach Jong (Uichico), coach Siot (Tanquingcen) and so many others,” he said. “I’ve seen how they’ve grown to become great coaches. I hope to be given the chance to someday, even come close to what they’ve achieved.”