Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo can’t stop raving about rookie big man Brandon Bates, who has been making a lot of heads turn during workouts with the Bolts in the runup to the opening of the Philippine Basketball Association early next month.
The 6-foot-9 Bates, a product of De La Salle, is fresh from signing a two-year contract and is showing the team a lot of promise.
“One thing I’ve noticed about Brandon is how athletic he is for a 6-foot-9 player,” said Trillo in a telephone interview with DAILY TRIBUNE.
“What people knew about him is the way he plays in La Salle and the PBA 3×3, but at first glance, one thing that caught my attention was his athleticism and that’s so important for a big man.”
Bates signed the deal on Thursday, according to his agent, Anton Altamirano, and his inclusion will immediately shore up Bolts’ frontcourt.
Trillo feels Bates could be the second coming of former Alaska main man Sonny Thoss, who had the mobility of a small guy.
“Last time I coached a quality big was Sonny Thoss,” Trillo said.
“I told Coach Tim (Cone) about Sonny as he barely knew the player, and we brought him in to Alaska and he had turned the fortunes of the team in the post-grand slam era.”
Trillo is tickled pink by the squad’s newest acquisition, saying Bates has what it takes to become a major player.
“Through the years, Meralco wasn’t able to get a quality big man coming from the draft and probably the last player from the draft who immediately made a huge impact for the team was Chris Newsome, who is a guard. We’re fortunate that Brandon kinda fell into our laps and we were able to get a big man who would allow us to match up with the likes of June Mar Fajardo, Christian Standhardinger or a James Laput,” Trillo added.
With Bates joining the team, Meralco will now be able to address its front court issues as the rookie will join hands with veteran center Raymond Almazan and Kyle Pascual while Cliff Hodge will share the forward spots with the import.
Selected eighth overall by Meralco in the recent PBA Rookie Draft, Bates played in Australia, enabling him to toughen up for the PBA’s rugged style.
But while the Australian National Basketball League is tough, Bates believes the Filipino brand of game is smarter.
“Australia is tough, physical, but Pinoy style of play is equally tough and smarter. I like the style of play better here.”
Bates will not be only a big help for Meraqlco in the PBA, but likewise in the East Asia Super League where the Bolts will join TNT in competing against the powerhouse teams in the region.
Meralco starts competing in the EASL on 15 November where it faces the Allen Durham and Carl Tamayo-led Ryukyu Golden Kings, the reigning champions of the Japan B. League.