Meralco coach Luigi Trillo lauds Phoenix after tough battle

Meralco Bolts’ coach Luigi Trillo. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—There was nothing easy about how Meralco escaped Phoenix to force a do-or-die game for a spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.

Coach Luigi Trillo acknowledged the a big part of the Bolts’ struggle came at the hands of the Fuel Masters’ “three musketeers,” which consisted of Ken Tuffin, Javee Mocon and Jason Perkins.

“Those ‘three amigos’ there, we call them the ‘three musketeers,’ Tuffin, Mocon and Perk… We got to match their intensity, toughness and play as tough as them,” said Trillo with Inquirer Sports after their 116-107 victory over Phoenix in triple overtime at Philsports Arena on Wednesday.

“We have to find ways to match them. We just won one game, that doesn’t really do anything. We’ve got to find a way to win that next one.”

Perkins (20), Ken Tuffin (16) and Javee Mocon (6) combined for 42 points and 13 rebounds in the Fuel Masters’ defeat.

Meralco’s head tactician also Jamike Jarin’s selection of starting five that also included import Johnathan Williams III and guard Tyler Tio.

Jamike Jarin and the Phoenix Fuel Masters’ bench. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Tio showed his mettle with 20 points built on four made triples while Williams showed why he’s in the race for the conference’s best import award with 24 points with as many rebounds to his name.

“I think their first five is tough. You look at Tyler Tio, he’s solid in what he does, I think Perkins, Mocon and Tuffin are, too. That five is solid, they know how to play and I think that’s their strength, that core. They have a bright future, I think Tio really stepped up, he’s playing very mature for his age,” said Trillo.

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And after winning a tough battle against the Fuel Masters that gave them another lease on life, Trillo and the Bolts prepare to do it all over again when they settle their business on Sunday in the decider.

WATCH: Meralco’s Bong Quinto and coach Luigi Trillo after the win over Phoenix. | @MeloFuertesINQ pic.twitter.com/KvksIpmH2M

— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) January 17, 2024

“It’s just one game. Whatever we did, Phoenix is just a very resilient team. You can see that their kids know how to be physical. I just don’t know how we did that in three overtimes.”

“[I give] a lot of respect for Phoenix. With them, it’s always going to be a battle and you can’t rest. Phoenix doesn’t have quit in them. I have the highest respect for coach Jamike and what he’s done to that group. This is what you want.”

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