09 August 2014

What It Means for Bolts to Have Trillo

Luigi Trillo
The next season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is expected to be exciting and breathtaking, not because of competition, but because of coaching carousel.

With boxing icon tapped to coach Kia Motors’ ragtag band of misfits, it was a matter of who between the Manual V. Pangilinan (MVP) group of companies and the San Miguel Beer group can offer the most viable option for ex-Alaska Aces coach Luigi Trillo. Because of a very tempting from Meralco Bolts, Trillo selected the former even if it is only as an assistant to coach Norman Black.

With the seemingly continuous player evaluation as a backdrop, here’s a look at the desirability of having Trillo as one of the coaches at the Bolts' camp.

Pros: Presence of Norman Black in the team management; allure of being part of the MVP group; ownership clearly willing to pay top peso and spare no expense to win; potential for lots of cap space in years to come; hunger to snatch that elusive first franchise crown.

Cons: Aging, poorly constructed roster with little flexibility to entice free agents, plus lack of draft picks moving forward; questions about how long can Black unravel the system entrenched for four years under former coach Ryan Gregorio; historically meddlesome ownership who appear to favour the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.

The lowdown: You can make a good argument there are two truly iconic head coaches in the PBA at presents: Tim Cone and Norman Black. Acting as deputy to either of these two is a rare chance to hone one’s skill. However, just because Black is an icon doesn’t mean it is ideal. Unless the MVP group give equal protection to all its three teams, working with the Bolts clearly isn’t.

There are plenty of positives to the job, in theory. Getting to work with someone like Norman Black is a rare opportunity, one many would jump at. For all the way you could criticize MVP as an owner, only Ramon Ang can rival the financial lengths MVP has proved willing to go just to put a winner on the court.

But the issue with the Bolts is with their roster. The team are in a bad enough situation that the only quality center they have is the undersize Reynel Hugnatan. And, because of the amount of money the missing–in– action center Rabeh Al-Hussaini will command when he is back in the fold, there is a compelling argument the Bolts could be better off in the long term if they let him walk or swap him for another big man from another team.

Because of prior trades, the Bolts just have no first round pick in the next Rookie Draft, meaning they are likely to have a good bargaining chip to land a quality player from the free agency. It could be a home run, if they land a couple of star players, or it could become a disaster, if they start throwing money at players just to fill out the roster and come up empty handed just like what they did during Gregorio’s time.

Why Trillo is the ideal assistant to Black: Trillo is a smart, highly respected basketball mind. He has spent time as both a TV analyst and as Alaska Aces mentor that helped them capture a crown. Trillo is being sought after for several jobs, but his longtime relationship with Black has made him the ideal assistant coach.

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