THE seeds that he planted six years ago are finally bearing fruit.
Ryan Gregorio couldn't have been any prouder seeing the Meralco Bolts make the PBA Finals for the first time, a few years after serving as the franchise's original coach when it first came to the league in 2010 upon acquiring the Sta. Lucia franchise.
Gregorio, two seasons removed from coaching after taking on an executive job in a company whose winning tradition dates back to the good old MICAA days, was at ringside of the Smart Araneta Coliseum when the Bolts finished off TNT Katropa in Game Four of their Governors Cup semifinals.
"I'm just so happy with the development of the team," said Gregorio, who had prolific guard MacMac Cardona as his top gunner when the Bolts made their league debut.
"I really expected that sooner or later, the Bolts will stabilize."
The champion coach, who now dabbles as game analyst for TV5's coverage of the game, credited coach Norman Black and team board of governor Al Panlilio for the franchise's complete turnaround this season.
But he's happy for the players, especially Clif Hodge and veteran Reynel Hugnatan, the only remaining members of the team Gregorio once handled.
"Just proud of Cliff Hodge because we drafted him in 2012. And of course, Papa Rey Hugnatan, who played tremendous basketball (in this series)."
Gregorio also mentioned electrifying freshman Chris Newsome, who he noted played so well in his rookie year. And of course, brilliant point guard Jimmy Alapag.
"That winning attitude which Jimmy posesses was a big part of the Bolts making it all the way to the finals," he said.
The youngest of the Gregorio siblings in basketball also gave credit to Black, saying the one-time grand slam coach always has a good eye for imports as gleamed from current reinforcement Allen Durham and previously, Arinze Onuaku, who emerged Best Import during the Commissioner's Cup.
"If there's one thing Norman does well is that he scouts import so well," he said. "Allen Durham is definitely making a case as Best Import."
While he's very proud of what the six-year franchise has achieved, Gregorio said he won't be satisfied until it wins breakthrough championship.
"I'm very, very happy with the team. But I want to be happier if the team makes it all the way," he said.
Game One of the best of seven finals between Meralco and Ginebra is set Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.