RYAN Gregorio has dumped the playbook in favor of a free-flowing offense which he hopes would turn the Meralco Bolts into one of the most electrying teams in the pro league.
“I’m stopping myself from running controlled basketball,” Gregorio told Spin.ph at the end of a 103-98 win against the Barako Bull in a practice game on Wednesday at the Meralco gym that revealed facets of the kind of offense that Gregorio wants his team to run in the coming season.
“We will instead play basketball based on the instincts of the players. We will try to do away with the regular set plays but we’ll give our players the freedom to execute. And we’ll depend a lot more on the skills of the players, so I think basketball will be much more free-flowing for us.”
The shift should turn the Bolts into one of the most exciting teams to watch in the pro league as it brings out the best in Sol Mercado, Meralco's high-octane scorer whose one-on-one skills were on full display during Smart-Gilas 2.0’s conquest of the Jones Cup championship last month.
Not surprisingly, Gregorio expects Mercado's no-holds-barred style of play to be the focal point of his new offense.
“I expect Sol to be fantastic in this kind of offense. He can break down the defense and easily get into the rack for points. He’ll also be like a kuya to the younger players,” added Gregorio, who has won three PBA titles with Purefoods (now San Mig Coffee) but has yet to come close to one with the Bolts.
Another Bolt expected to benefit from the new system is Cardona, whose unorthodox offense will once again be unleashed come the new season where Gregorio said 100-point productions for the Bolts would be common.
Aside from Mercado and Cardona, Fil-Am rookie Cliff Hodge, a certified bruiser and perimeter player,and newly acquired Ronjay Buenafe are expected to provide the scoring as the Bolts look to improve on their 21-23 (win-loss) campaign last season and hopefully get a shot at a championship.