Expectations rose at the beginning of the season for the new-look Meralco Bolts, which made good offseason moves by bringing in Jimmy Alapag and Rabeh Al-Hussaini while adding Baser Amer and Chris Newsome via the draft.
On paper, the Bolts looked like they were a team that can challenge any other team in the league if they played a good night, and the team was hopeful to improve on its overall run last season.
However, disappointment walloped the campaign early on as the Bolts underachieved with a woeful 1-10 slate in the Philippine Cup.
“It was hard. It was a very humbling experience. We upgraded the roster and were expecting too much from ourselves,” Jared Dillinger, one of the Bolts’ leaders, said. “To finish the conference like that, it grounded us and centered our focus on what we needed to do not just as a team but individually.”
Meralco has learned from the setback, and used the longer time together to become an even better-constructed unit.
The Bolts, with the help of Arinze Onuaku who has been able to address the team’s needs in specific areas, opened the Commissioner’s Cup with back to back wins. While knowing it is still early in the conference, Dillinger believes it is an encouraging sign.
“We are 2-0 but it is a long way to go. We haven’t proven anything or done anything yet,” he said.
“(But) we are getting there. We just have to keep playing together. We are grinding through it.”
Dillinger understands successful teams have cores playing together for a long time; and in order to reach that success, continuity will play a big part in Meralco’s drive to become a legitimate contender in the league.
It may be a long haul, but Meralco is on the right track.
“Any new team brought in together, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, you have to learn to play with each other. You have to set egos aside. You have to sacrifice more for the betterment of the team. And it doesn’t come all in just one day. It’s a process,” he shared.
“We are a great organization with a great coaching staff. They understand what we need to do.”