Luigi Trillo didn’t hide that coaching felt so new to him as he called the shots for Meralco in their PBA Philippine Cup duel versus Rain or Shine, Wednesday.
And it’s totally understandable since he last mentored a team eight years ago — he could hardly remember when exactly was the last time he did so.
“Siyempre, eight years,” said the 46-year-old, who last manned the helm for Alaska back in May 23, 2014 before leaving the defunct ball club that eventually led him to the Bolts. “I haven’t handled a team, ‘di ba, so naninibago ako.”
Trillo wasn’t supposed to coach Meralco, but had to take on the head coaching role as lead assistant Ronnie Magsanoc is with Gilas PIlipinas in the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup, being the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ 3×3 program director.
The Bolts are without chief mentor Norman Black, who’s taken an indefinite leave to attend to his ailing mother back home in the States.
“I was telling the coaching staff, Coach Norman is so quick in terms of adjustments. It was new to me,” Trillo said, smiling. “It’s all coming in.
“Siyempre ‘pag assistant coach ka, you’re assigned something, Coach Norman assigns you to something. But now, it was hard, because eight years, right,” added the last coach who gave the Aces their last PBA title in 2013.
Thus, the sigh of relief on Trillo’s part that the Bolts were able to hack out a 77-73 victory, which ended their two-game skid — and, of course, gave the veteran bench tactician a triumphant coaching return as well.
“Just proud of everyone,” he said.
“It’s been eight years for me, so I was also not in my flow. But the players chipped in, they were vocal, and I let them talk before the game. And our coaching staff helped each other.”
It remains uncertain if Magsanoc will be the one in charge in their next game, but Trillo said that the staff is prepared if ever he won’t be able to.
The Bolts will next take on Ginebra next Wednesday, the start of a killer slate that will see them battle Magnolia and San Miguel in that same week.
“Tulungan lang kami,” said Trillo. “I’m sure Coach Norman would want to be here and we’re just holding the fort.
“But obviously he has more important things, his mom,” he furthered.
“Hopefully, we can get a couple more wins para when he gets back, at least we have a shot entering the playoffs, better chance.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.