AN avowed student of the game, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo admitted having to endure five straight losing seasons with Adamson in his first tab at coaching in a major basketball league helped make him the coach that he is today.
The youthful coach recalled the forgettable two-and-a-half seasons with the Falcons, which saw him lose 33 straight games at one point. But it was the pain of losing that eventually strengthened his resolve and awakened the competitive side in him.
A decade after, he’s on top of the coaching world in no less than the country's biggest sports league.
“I look back with fond memories and I truly cherish those times (coaching Adamson in the UAAP),” Trillo said, moments after receiving his first-ever Coach of the Year award from the PBA Press Corps during its 20th Annual Awards Night on Tuesday at the Wack Wack Golf Club.
Trillo beat out coaching greats Norman Black and Tim Cone, both Grand Slam winners, for the honor after leading Alaska to the Commissioner's Cup title - its first in the post-Cone era - and a 35-20 win-loss record for the highest winning percentage among the 10 teams last season.
Still, Trillo said his journey to the top started with the losing experience with the Falcons, which he said was a great learning experience for him.
“It really got my competitive nature going,” he recalled. “I was a 23 year-old coaching against 40-year-olds. The personnel I had that time compared to other teams was tough, but I never gave up.”
But while Trillo had to endure those losing seasons, he was also learning the ropes on the side from no less than Cone as one of his assistant coaches at Alaska.
“I really made sure I was surrounded with good people and followed my dream. And to do it this way was truly special,” said the former De La Salle player.
But Trillo said he didn’t do it alone, citing the major contributions of his accomplished coaching staff led by Louie Alas, Alex Compton, Topex Robinson, Monch Gavieres, and Franco Atienza.
He also cited the continious mentoring from no less than Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu himself.
“I’ve been with the (Alaska) company for 14 years and I’m entering my 15th year. In my wildest dreams, if I thought we would have a year like this against (other PBA) teams out there and coaches out there, it’s just hitting me now,” added the youthful mentor, son of Alaska team governor Joaqui Trillo and brother to Talk `N Text team manager Paolo Trillo.