It’s no secret that expectations are high for an import of the Meralco Bolts.
The player not only has to help the team become solid contenders in import-laden conferences; they also have to play under the legendary Norman Black – who is still the standard for how PBA imports should perform.
But the Bolts’ 2019 Commissioner’s Cup reinforcement Gani Lawal is unfazed.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. I know he’s a legend here. He’s been here thirty years between playing and coaching. I like him so far,” said the 30-year-old Lawal. “He’s gonna let me be me out there.
“So far so good.”
Lawal has been with the Orangemen for about a week now, and he admits to liking his new team.
“We got a group of good guys in the team that like to play the game the right way. And everybody’s kind of a free spirit – we like to laugh and joke,” he said.
“I already know that I like being here even outside of the basketball standpoint.
“A couple of my teammates have already put me on some nice restaurants,” Lawal added with a smile.
The Bolts’ growing chemistry with Lawal was on full display on Thursday, when they battled TNT KaTropa in a tuneup game at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City as part of their buildup for the mid-season conference set to open on May 19.
The Nigerian-American slotman fired 36 points. Lawal was responsible for Meralco’s fiery start in the friendly, as they unloaded 32 big points in the first quarter alone while limiting the opposition to just 15 points.
Then when the KaTropa threatened by knocking within five with 8:45 to go in the final frame, the Georgia Tech alumnus led the Bolts’ rally en route to a 91-79 lead with 2:55 left to play, shutting the door for the KaTropa.
But as much as Lawal is currently enjoying himself, he reassures it won’t be all fun and games when he finally sets foot on the hardwood.
“I hold myself to a high standard. Every time I step on the floor, I want to dominate,” he said. “And if I do what I’m supposed to do, the natural by-product of that is me helping Meralco – me being a good leader, me bringing the energy.
“I know what I’m supposed to do as a player is gonna help the team, and ultimately what we’re trying to do is win.”