Culture has long been a strength for the Bolts.
If there’s one thing that Meralco Bolts head coach Luigi Trillo learned from his long career in coaching, it’s the value of building relationships.
“It’s such a high-pressure job, and what I’ve learned over the years is that in coaching, it’s not about what you know. It’s about whether they believe in you,” he says.
“As an assistant coach, you’re often the bridge between the players and the head coach,” shares Trillo, who served as an assistant coach for Meralco for nearly 10 years. “I’ve gotten to know them well, and I feel so blessed to work with a great group of people.”
Culture has long been a strength for the Bolts. Under the tenure of previous head coach Norman Black, the Bolts established themselves as a professional and disciplined organization within the PBA.
Trillo hopes for this era of the Bolts to be defined by a balance of professionalism and compassion. Together, Trillo and active consultant Nenad Vucinic have been running practices like a tight ship.
“There’s value in us being strict in practice, of stopping the practice to call things out and correct them. We’re detail-oriented,” he says. “But EQ is also important to me.”
This means understanding the root causes behind mistakes, whether it’s a lack of comprehension about a play, confusion about the system, or a personal problem that’s affecting the game.
“We want to be clinical. There’s accountability but we’re not personal about it. You can’t always be mad,” Trillo says. “Coaching is like teaching. It’s about finding solutions.”
Trillo hopes to cultivate the solution-oriented mindset in all the players, as well. “Play through the bad calls, play through mistakes, focus on the big picture and what it takes to win,” he says.
The PBA On Tour competition is a crucial time for the Bolts, as they build in new systems and look to gel under new leadership. While some teams’ veterans and key players will not participate, the Bolts are coming to the PBA On Tour with full force (save for Chris Newsome, as he waits for a potential Gilas call-up for the FIBA World Cup).
“I’m proud of everyone, especially our veterans like Cliff Hodge, Raymond Almazan, Anjo Caram and Allein Maliksi,” says Trillo. “They put their hard hats on, just like the Meralco linemen, to get the job done. It’s great to see everyone embrace that.”
In the Bolts’ first PBA On Tour game, five players scored in the double digits—with Maliksi erupting for 21 points, and even new acquisition Norbert Torres adding 10 points and 8 rebounds. The diminutive Caram was awarded Player of the Game in their most recent game, and has been seeing more playing time in the competition.
As the Bolts march forward towards the championship that they are so hungry for, Trillo says the whole coaching staff will push hard to unlock the team’s potential.
“I want to treat this like a family. That means we will go through hard times on the way to getting where we want to be, but that’s how we build character,” he adds. “And that’s how you earn the chance to win.”