Trillo: ‘Nobody remembers second place’

Trillo: ‘Nobody remembers second place’

Meralco Bolts in Game 5 of the PBA philippine Cup Finals against San Miguel Beermen

Meralco Bolts in Game 5 of the PBA philippine Cup Finals against San Miguel Beermen. -MARLO CUETO/

Now that they are within a win of their first-ever PBA championship, the Meralco Bolts are determined to not let a golden opportunity slip away.

Their first chance to close the series out is on Sunday night in Game 6 of the Philippine Cup Finals at Smart Araneta Coliseum, where the franchise that endured so many title heartbreaks can make those defeats a distant memory with another victory over the favored San Miguel Beermen.

“Nobody remembers second place. You got to win one to gain respect,” coach Luigi Trillo said late Friday after the Bolts took Game 5, 92-88, for a 3-2 lead in the series.


History favors Meralco since 15 of 19 teams in the last 12 years that won a Game 5 to take a pivotal advantage in the Finals have gone on to wrest the championship trophy.

But San Miguel is no stranger to overcoming such a precarious deficit, winning the titles in the 2019 and 2022 Philippine Cup against Magnolia and TNT, respectively, in a series-comebacking fashion.

And the Beermen have dug themselves out of an even deeper hole before, erasing a 0-3 deficit in the 2015-2016 Philippine Cup Finals to stun Alaska and emerge victorious.

Clank after clank

The potential clincher or potential setup to a deciding Game 7 will see if the Bolts can finally get the job after falling short in four previous Finals appearances, all against Barangay Ginebra.


Meralco, under the collective tutelage of Trillo, active consultant Nenad Vucinic and the rest of the coaching staff, has practically dictated the tempo of the series with its defense, preventing San Miguel from scoring at least 90 points in all its three wins.

The only time San Miguel even breached the 100-point mark was when the Beermen put up 111 in a Game 4 triumph on Independence Day.


Chris Newsome bucked early struggles to deliver when it mattered most, then got plenty of offensive help—especially from Allein Maliksi, who was fueled by news articles calling out his Game 4 scoring woes and matched the Meralco leader with 22 points.

Also key were the Bolts’ defensive stand, that made the Beermen supporting cast endure clank after clank while leaving June Mar Fajardo to carry the load with his season-high 38 points.

If Meralco once again succeeds in making things uncomfortable for its opponent, while getting shots from multiple sources other than Newsome or any of its key players, it could be a likelihood that the Jun Bernardo Perpetual Trophy could be lifted at game’s end.

“We’re ready,” said Trillo. “It’s our first all-Filipino chance and we have to relish these situations. But we know San Miguel is capable [of coming back].

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“Clearly, [the series] is defined on what they want to do, and it’s defined by what we want to do. But that’s the beauty of it. They have their offense and we have our defense. We just need to be locked in to come out and play.”

TAGS: Meralco Bolts, Philippine Cup Finals, San Miguel Beer

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