With its biggest tormentor — Justin Brownlee of Barangay Ginebra — expected to be out, Meralco likes its title chances in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup on 5 November.
Bolts coach Luigi Trillo yesterday said they have a golden opportunity to get over the hump and win their breakthrough title following the looming suspension of Brownlee, who tested positive for banned substances in the aftermath of the 19th Asian Games last month.
“I think not only with Meralco, but anybody,” Trillo said.
“What’s good about Brownlee is playing the way he plays, he knows the league. A lot of question marks were on his injuries before he won the gold, but he showed how dominant he can be.”
“A good import, to me, is how he makes his teammates better and that’s what Brownlee does and he makes himself better. He knows which buttons to press and he’s very coachable.”
Brownlee has been the biggest obstacle in the Bolts’ path to their first PBA crown.
In fact, Brownlee torched the Bolts in the finals four times en route to winning six PBA titles and three Best Imports honors.
Trillo said Brownlee’s possible absence creates a wide-open race for the PBA title.
“Look at the greats — Coach Norman (Black), Sean Chambers, Bobby Parks, Brownlee. To be great, you have to have those qualities. But in his absence, it’s not only us, but everybody will have an opportunity and we know what Brownlee can do.”
But while teams might be getting some sort of a relief with Brownlee not suiting up, Trillo is one of those coaches who wish him well.
“I hope he gets an opportunity to play (again). I hope they will lighten the suspension and that he’ll get another opportunity again,” said Trillo, who replaced Black as Bolts’ head coach.
Black, however, will still remain with the Bolts as a coaching consultant while Serbian Nenad Vucinic will be playing a more active role.
“Coach Norman was able to build the foundation in helping the team reach multiple semifinals and finals,” Trillo said.
“He’s there as a consultant, but Coach Nenad is an active consultant. Coach Norman is one guy you can seek for advice. He puts the pieces in as well.”