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Continuity key in Meralco’s big preseason start

Meralco is not making major changes in the team’s system amid retooling its coaching staff for the coming Philippine Basketball Association.

At the start of the Bolts’ campaign in the PBA On Tour preseason tournament, the squad decided to stick with its old ways and not make major changes under the tutelage of newly-appointed head coach Luigi Trillo.

For the Bolts, continuity is the key in the franchise’s search for a first ever championship in Asia’s pioneering professional basketball league and that familiarity was a crucial part in their 97-89 triumph over NorthPort Wednesday night at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City.

“Overall, there’s a lot of things to improve on, but tune up game is a time for us to experiment, use different line ups that we have,” said Trillo. “You know I’ve been a triangle guy, but our system in Meralco is totally different from what we’ve been running nine years ago the last time I coached a team.”

“But I want to be open-minded and me and Coach Nenad Vucinic, we’re closely working together. He’s bringing some things in and I’m excited to do new things, but obviously, it’s going to take time.”

Vucinic and star player Chris Newsome, however, paid tribute to the foundation laid by long-time coach Norman Black and were one in saying that not much changes had been made in the team in terms of running their schemes.

“There are changes, but not many changes,” added Vucinic. “We’re still happy to have Coach Norman in our coaching staff as consultant. He’s away for the moment, but we’ll wait for him to come back.  We just wanted to improve on execution, the intensity and everything what Coach Norman is doing. Coach Norman is a great coach and a proven coach.”

Black is currently in the United States to attend to some personal matters.

“We’re working as a team and if not for Coach Norman, this coaching staff will not be as effective,” added Vucinic.

Newsome was on street clothes in the Bolts’ opening game of the preseason as he is resting after helping Gilas Pilipinas in winning back the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.

A long-time player of Black ever since college, Newsome paid tribute to his long-time mentor in the team’s consistent playoff and finals runs and believes continuity will play a bigger role in achieving that elusive title.

“Coach Luigi being there (under Coach Norman) helped in the transition as we still keep a lot of the concepts under Coach Norman. We were still successful as an organization with those concepts so why not keep them. And I think that’s what we’re doing right now and taking our core on what we built so we can finally get a PBA championship,” said Newsome.

“That’s the ultimate goal of the organization – to win our first title in the PBA. I think the transition is going to be OK and we have a great coaching staff. Coach Nenad has helped us a lot as well. He’s very knowledgeable when it comes to the game and this might be the changes that we need. But of course, you have to give credit to Coach Norman for putting us in this position so we’ll never forget that.”

Under Black, Meralco has been to the championship round four times and reached the semifinals five of the last six conferences, but had yet to win the elusive PBA title.

The Scores:

MERALCO 97 – Maliksi 21, Quinto 12, Caram 11, Torres 10, Hodge 11, Pascual 9, Pasaol 8, Jose 7, Almazan 6, Rios 0, Manday 0

NORTHPORT 89 – Chan 20, Calma 15, Zamar 12, Ayaay 9, Santos 9, Salado 8, Yu 5, Munzon 5, Taha 2, Balagasay 2, Olivario 2, Bulawan 0, Caperal 0, Gabriel 0, Comboy 0

QUARTERS: 26-12, 51-40, 64-64, 97-89

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