Meralco head coach Norman Black still remembers when he decided to give rookie Bong Quinto a chance to play the small forward spot, just like during his days in Letran.
“I made a decision on Bong Quinto at the beginning of this conference (2019 PBA Governors’ Cup), to give him the opportunity to play the three-position for us,” shared the decorated mentor.
And the decision has — so far — been paying dividends.
In Meralco’s first seven games — where it is 5-2 — Quinto has been a key contributor. He has averages of 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in over 24 minutes of playing time.
And on Sunday night, as the Bolts took on rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, he made his presence felt anew.
Quinto produced 13 points — the best among locals — on 50-percent shooting from the field, alongside five rebounds and two assists as he helped his side to a dominant 101-77 victory.
“I actually think he’s more of a two. But luckily for me, he is strong enough to play the three-position, and he’s aggressive enough to play the three-position. He’s a well-rounded player,” Black lauded. “He can score the basketball, but he rebounds well, he plays good defense, and he’s a very, very good assist guy. In other words, he’s a good ball-mover, which we really need in that first team.
“I’ve been calling him the glue guy, because that’s basically what he’s been for us. He’s been the guy that doesn’t need the basketball score, but at the same time, he does the little things.”
Quinto felt flattered to hear Black’s praises. Still, he pointed out that he’s just simply fulfilling his role with the team.
“Role player — ‘yun lang naman talaga trabaho ko sa amin eh, ‘yung mag bigay ng space kina AD (Allen Durham).
“‘Pag binigay nila ‘yung opportunity sa ‘kin, dapat ma-convert ko,” the 24-year-old said.
But of course, there’s also that extra push in him to prove that he belongs in the league. Quinto is seen as undersized for his position but so far, he’s proving he can deliver despite the ‘disadvantage’.
“Sabi nila maliit lang ‘yung height ko. Eh andito pa rin ako, nakakapag-perform pa rin ako,” said the 6-foot-1 Quinto, whom the Bolts acquired with the 14th overall pick in last year’s draft proceedings.
“Tinake ko siya as a challenge para mapakita ko kung ano kaya kong gawin at maitulong sa kahit anong team, lalung-lalo na sa Meralco.”