You may be familiar with the name Meralco Bolts if you’re a basketball lover; they’re a professional team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). In this article, we will provide a high-level history of the Meralco Bolts, from their humble beginnings to their most significant achievements. The team’s best players, coach, and recent news will also be discussed. Everyone, from die-hard fans to casual onlookers, can learn something new from this blog post. So, let’s get started.

History of the Team

After the Sta. Lucia Realtors’ PBA franchise was purchased by Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) in 2010, and the team was officially established that year. This team is owned by Manuel V. Pangilinan, a billionaire. He is also the owner of NLEX Road Warriors and TNT Tropang Giga. The team wears a combination of navy blue, orange, and white.Since its inception, Meralco Bolts have achieved the following noteworthy milestones:

  • August 2010: Meralco Bolts purchases the Sta. Lucia Realtors PBA franchise.
  • October 2010: The 2010–11 Meralco Bolts make their debut with a roster that includes Chris Ross,  Nelbert Omolon, Marlou Aquino, Ogie Menor, Pong Escobal, Chris Pacana, Mark Cardona, Asi Taulava, Beau Belga, Dennis Daa, and Chris Pacana.
  • 2011–12 PBA Philippine Cup: They had an 8–6 win-loss record and placed sixth overall; however, they were defeated by the Petron Blaze Boosters.
  • 2012–13 PBA season: Ramon Segismundo declared that the team’s 2012–13 uniform will carry over design elements from the 1971 outfits.
  • 2014-15 PBA Philippine Cup: They were the runner-up in the Philippine Cup conference, losing to the eventual champions, the Alaska Aces, after a strong showing that included an upset against the Purefoods Star Hotshots, the reigning champions.
  • 2018 PBA Governors Cup: In a best-of-five match, Meralco was beaten by the Alaska Aces, marking the first time since their inaugural finals appearance that they have failed to advance past the semifinals.
  • 2022–2023 season: Throughout the Philippine Cup, Luigi Trillo took Norman Black’s position for the final five games of the elimination phase after Black filed for a leave of absence due to personal reasons.

The Players

Chris Newsome

Christopher Newsome is a Filipino-American professional basketball player for the Meralco Bolts. He was born in San Jose, California, on July 25, 1990. Newsome is a 190-pound small forward/guard with a height of 6 feet 2 inches. Before moving to the Philippines to attend Ateneo de Manila University, Newsome played college basketball for New Mexico Highlands University. In the 2015 PBA draft, he was chosen as the fourth overall choice by the Meralco Bolts.

Clifford Hodge

Clifford Marion “Cliff” Hodge is a Meralco Bolts basketball player who is Filipino-American. Hodge is a 195-pound power forward or small forward with a height of 6 feet 4 inches. He was born in Pensacola, Florida, on February 3, 1988. Hodge attended Reedley College and Hawaii Pacific University to play college basketball before being chosen as the fourth overall choice by the Meralco Bolts in the 2012 PBA draft.

Aaron Black

Aaron Black is a Meralco Bolts professional basketball player who is Filipino-American. He was born in the Philippines on December 3, 1996. Black plays as a shooting guard or point guard, weighing 180 pounds and 6 feet 1 inch tall. Black attended Ateneo de Manila University while at college before being chosen as the 18th overall choice by the Meralco Bolts in the 2019 PBA draft’s second round.

Christopher Banchero

Christopher Banchero is a Filipino-Italian professional basketball player for the Meralco Bolts. He was born in Seattle, Washington, on January 24, 1989. Banchero is a 175-pound point guard/shooting guard, and he is 6 feet 1 inch tall. After playing college basketball for Seattle Pacific University, the Alaska Aces chose Banchero as the fifth overall choice in the 2014 PBA draft. 2022 saw him join the Meralco Bolts. 

The Coach

The head coach of the Meralco Bolts is Luigi Trillo, a Filipino basketball player. In the past, the Alaska Aces and Cebuana Lhuillier Gems of the PBA D-League were under his coaching staff. Trillo’s reputation as a coach stems from his defensive and disciplined playmaking. Throughout his career, he has received several honors and achievements. In the 2000 All-Filipino, 2003 Invitational, 2007 Fiesta, and 2010 Fiesta, he assisted the Alaska Aces in winning four PBA titles as an assistant coach. He received the PBA Baby Dalupan Coach of the Year award in 2012–13 and guided the Alaska Aces to the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup victory. 


Meralco Bolts knocked out of the EASL

For much of their East Asia Super League game against the New Taipei Kings, the Bolts were able to convert on most of their scoring opportunities from inside the 3-point line. In fact, they were able to stay close to the Kings despite not having Chris Newsome and Aaron Black.

However, New Taipei still came away with an 89-77 victory. Ball movement was key to the Kings’ victory as they patiently broke down Meralco’s defense for easy baskets. New Taipei’s offensive rebounds were also critical in their 11-0 run in the third quarter and proved to be painful for the Bolts, especially when they resulted in 3-pointers from Jeremy Lin.

The Kings also understood the impact of Meralco’s guards, who created scoring opportunities for their teammates and found nifty ways to score. New Taipei frequently deployed double-teams when the Bolts’ guards were in the corners or after dribble-handoffs, disrupting Meralco’s flow and taking precious time off the shot clock. The Kings made the Bolts a victim of their aggression on both ends of the floor and the frustration was eventually evident from Meralco’s side, as highlighted by the technical foul called on Zach Lofton.

Moreover, the little things like running back on defense and quickly moving to cover the perimeter were a great help for New Taipei in negating the Bolts’ transition offense. In some instances, there were open Meralco players in the corner, but the Kings did enough to make their Bolts teammates think twice about making those crosscourt passes. Anytime Meralco’s point guards circled back in a fastbreak was also a win for New Taipei.

The Meralco Bolts let a potential victory over the New Taipei Kings slip away and with it went away their East Asia Super League postseason chances. All is not lost, however, as they can turn this setback into something useful for the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign, where they have more favorable chances of making a long playoff run.

Meralco Bolts get breakthrough win in EASL

For all that talk about how the East Asia Super League (EASL) has benefitted from the exposure it gets from the Philippines, winning has eluded the PBA teams who were sent to represent the country. 

The San Miguel Beermen, the TNT Tropang Giga, and the Meralco Bolts suffered losses against teams from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, with each defeat only increasing calls for reforms in Philippine basketball. While those calls have merits, the Tropang Giga and the Bolts still have to play their remaining games in the 2023-2024 EASL Season. For Meralco, though, a breakthrough win could not have come at a better time. 

The Meralco Bolts got a historical win in the East Asia Super League after outlasting the Ryukyu Golden Kings and the hope that this is the first of many. Their current campaign in the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup has been a boon, but looking at the bigger picture, the stability within the franchise has helped the Bolts secure something none of their peers have been able to achieve: a win on the international stage.