PBA: Bolts will now know feeling of playing as the hunted

PBA: Bolts will now know feeling of playing as the hunted

PBA: Bolts will now know feeling of playing as the hunted

Meralco Bolts. Photo: PBA Images

Now that the long chase for a first-ever PBA championship has finally been fulfilled, the Meralco Bolts will come into the next season with a different role.

From hunters, the Bolts acknowledged that they’ll go into the league’s 49th season as the hunted.

“The next conference will test us as we will have a bull’s-eye on our chest,” coach Luigi Trillo said when asked by the Inquirer of the Bolts’ outlook going into the season-opening Governors’ Cup in August.


Meralco pulled off one of the most memorable title runs in recent history, defying previous heartbreaks to defeat San Miguel Beer and win the prestigious Philippine Cup title with Sunday’s 80-78 Game 6 win at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Under the combined stewardship of Trillo and active consultant Nenad Vucinic, the Bolts overcame the danger of missing a playoff berth to becoming just the third team outside of the Beermen, Barangay Ginebra and TNT Tropang Giga to win a title since the 2014-15 season.

During that span, San Miguel won 10 titles, Ginebra claimed seven and TNT bagged three. Two teams had one each in Rain or Shine (2016 Commissioner’s Cup) and Magnolia (2018 Governors’ Cup).

San Miguel, Ginebra and Magnolia, which in the same period has appeared in five Finals only to fall short four times, are seen as among those figuring prominently in the title picture next season, while TNT will be aiming to get itself in the discussion after an otherwise underwhelming 2023-24 campaign that saw two quarterfinal exits.


Meanwhile, the Bolts have started savoring their well-deserved break, though the offseason is also a time to address the need to pick well in the July Rookie Draft and getting a dependable import.

The 2024-25 season will open in August with the Governors’ Cup, which will see teams tap imports that are 6-foot-6 and below coupled with a format that divides the 12 teams into two groups.


Return of AD?

Trillo bared that Meralco is looking at bringing back Allen Durham, who won three Best Imports awards after powering the Bolts to Finals appearances in the 2016, 2018 and 2019 Governors’ Cup but has been playing the past few seasons in Japan’s B.League.

Initial talks have been “good,” said Trillo, but Durham, who last played for the Ryukyu Golden Kings, is also attracting offers from other B.League teams.

“I’ve spoken with coach Nenad and [Meralco team manager and brother Paolo Trillo] and [we] would love to have AD join us. We have to come to terms with his agent,” said Trillo.

If negotiations with Durham don’t pan out, the Bolts may look at potential reinforcements elsewhere like in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Regardless of who they eventually sign, the Bolts hope that he turns out to be the guy who could put them in a position to once again march back into center court and lift another trophy.

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“We have to really lock in and have a good two weeks of preseason training before we get on the court again,” Trillo said.

TAGS: Meralco Bolts, PBA Philipine Cup

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