PBA: With Black, Magsanoc unavailable, Trillo is next man up for Meralco

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2022 01:21 PM

Luigi Trillo gives instructions to the Meralco Bolts during a timeout in their PBA Philippine Cup game against Rain or Shine. PBA Images
Luigi Trillo gives instructions to the Meralco Bolts during a timeout in their PBA Philippine Cup game against Rain or Shine. PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- In recent days, PBA coaches have shown that the often-repeated mantra "next man up" applies not just to the players, but to them as well.

In Barangay Ginebra, Richard del Rosario has stepped up to call the shots for the Gin Kings while Tim Cone is with the Miami Heat in the NBA's Summer League. 

On Wednesday night, Luigi Trillo did the same for the Meralco Bolts, with both head coach Norman Black and chief deputy Ronnie Magsanoc unavailable.

"[For] eight years, I haven't handled a team," Trillo said afterward. "So naninibago ako."

It was a triumphant return for Trillo, as the Bolts held off the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 77-73, to snap a two-game slide in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup and improve to 4-3 in the conference.

Trillo had to step up and serve as head coach for Meralco as Black is currently in the United States to tend to his ailing mother, while Magsanoc is with the Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 team in the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Singapore. 

For Trillo, it's the first time he called the shots for a team since May 2014, when he was still with the Alaska Aces.

"I was telling the coaching staff -- Coach Norman is so quick in terms of adjustments, [but] it was new to me," he said. "Siyempre, 'pag assistant coach ka, you are assigned something. Coach Norman assigns you to do something."

"But now, it was hard, because eight years, right?" he added. "Ang maganda diyan, nagtulungan ang coaching staff and we found a way to get the W. Thankful din kami that we got the win."

A hustle play from Cliff Hodge in the final seconds led to Bong Quinto's game-icing free throw, as the Bolts managed to hold off the slumping Elasto Painters. Aaron Black came through with 20 points, six assists, and four rebounds in the win.

Trillo gave full credit to the Meralco players for keeping a positive mindset despite their recent slump as well as their lack of personnel. Aside from missing their coaches, the Bolts were also without point guard Chris Banchero for the game.

"Just proud of everyone," said Trillo. "It's been eight years for me, so I was also not in my flow."

"But the players chipped in. They were vocal. I let them talk before the game, and our coaching staff helped each other," he added.

Meralco returns to action next Wednesday against Barangay Ginebra. It remains to be seen if Trillo will still be in charge at that point but the coach assured they are prepared for whatever development.

"Tulungan lang kami," he said. "If Coach Ronnie can't make it, he already spoke to me about our practice plans, so it is what it is. I'm sure Coach Norman would want to be here, and we're just holding down the fort."

"Hopefully, we can get a couple more wins, para when he gets back, at least we have a chance of entering the playoffs," Trillo added.