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Meralco’s Promising PBA Start Clouded by EASL Concerns

The outlook is promising for coach Luigi Trillo in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. But the new Meralco coach faces bleaker prospects in the East Asia Super League (EASL), where the Bolts kick off their bid on Wednesday against Japan B.League champion Ryukyu Golden Kings—a team reinforced by some very familiar names.

“Those are things beyond our control,” Trillo said of the away game slated in the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. Meralco import Su Braimoh has yet to complete necessary documents to not just see action in the EASL, but to get past Japanese immigration as well. Prince Ibeh, the team’s other reinforcement for the two-import tournament, has been dealing with an injury while also tending to some personal matters that prompted him to leave Manila for a brief period.

“We’ve had a little bit of things going on,” Trillo said. “We want Prince Ibeh there, but he has a groin problem so he hasn’t played with us one bit. He practiced one time, then his wife gave birth, so he just arrived today. Something’s also [up] with Su in terms of fixing his multiple visas so we’ll see what we can do [against Ryukyu],” he added.

Braimoh proved how valuable he is to the Bolts, who won their second straight game in the Commissioner’s Cup after a 91-84 victory over Blackwater on Saturday at Ynares Center in Antipolo City. Ryukyu will be led by Allen Durham, who powered the Bolts to three Governors’ Cup Finals appearances and winning three Best Import awards in the process. Former University of the Philippines star Carl Tamayo, meanwhile, is also part of the Golden Kings’ roster. Meralco is in its fifth 2-0 (win-loss) start in six conferences and got key contributions in other departments from Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge and Bong Quinto.