SHORTLY after Spin.ph broke the news that coach Luigi Trillo had signed on as an assistant coach at Meralco, not a few of our astute readers wondered if the former Alaska coach was the MVP group's answer to coach Tim Cone and his triangle offense.
Cone, afterall, is coming off a grand slam season with San Mig. And in the course of completing only the fifth 'triple crown' sweep in the league's 39 years, the multi-titled coach had twice frustrated the flagship of Manny Pangilinan's teams, Talk 'N Text, in playoff series.
On the other hand, Trillo has had extensive experience with the triangle offense, having served as Cone's deputy for over a dozen years at Alaska before coming into his own and leading Alaska to the 2013 Commissioner's Cup championship - yes, with the 'triangle' as his main weapon.
The plot only thickened when Spin.ph reported on Saturday that San Miguel Beer tried to hire Trillo as an assistant coach to Todd Purves, and some kind of a coach-in-waiting, before the former La Salle player opted to sign with the Meralco Bolts.
Had SMB succeeded in hiring Trillo, chances are it would not have been long before all three San Miguel Corp.-controlled teams were handled by Cone or his former assistants - Jeffrey Cariaso is calling the shots for Ginebra - and all running the triangle offense.
Intrigued, we tossed the question to Al Panlilio, who is alternate governor of Meralco and is one of Pangilinan's most trusted men.
Panlilio said Trillo's hiring as an assistant of Norman Black had nothing to do with the team's bid to counter San Mig's time-tested triangle under Cone.
Instead, Panlilio explained that Trillo happened to be available when Black was looking for someone to fill the slot vacated by Sandy Arrespacochaga, who was assigned to incoming team NLEX after the MVP group's latest coaching shuffle.
"When Norman and I talked, he was looking to strengthen his bench further after losing Sandy to NLEX. And since Luigi was available, we talked to him and asked him if he would be interested to join us," Panlilio told Spin.ph on Saturday.
"Luigi thought the values of the (MVP) group was aligned to his so he and Norman spoke."
The amiable Meralco top official explained that he's leaving the X's and O's to Black, though he admitted that by signing Trillo, the Bolts have brought in valuable coaching experience to a team that has not reached the finals since joining the pro league four years ago.
"Luigi is a champion coach and he's experienced, so definitely, he can strengthen the bench and help coach Norman," he added.
For his part, Trillo said he doesn't consider himself the savior of the title-less Bolts, adding he is simply honored to be working with Black and pitching in in whatever way he can.
“I think seeing coach Norman, he wants Meralco to be in the best possible position to be successful and I’m just honored to be part of the team,” Trillo told Spin.ph.
Incidentally, Cone, Black, and Trillo are the only coaches to have won championships in the league's last six conferences, as Trillo himself correctly pointed out.
“I think coach Norman wants people who can add experience because aside from coach Tim, who won the last four championships, the only two other coaches the last two seasons who have won a title is me, and coach Norman,” he said.
Still, Trillo was not oblivious to the fact that his knowledge of the triangle offense will be a big help to Meralco.
“I have the background in the triangle (offense) and hopefully, I can help.”