It was only fitting that the Meralco Bolts won their first PBA championship with a Chris Newsome game-winner.

One of the Bolts’ most heartbreaking moments came on Justin Brownlee’s buzzer-beater that won the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup title and this time, Meralco got theirs, albeit at the hands of the Gin Kings’ sister team.


What made this championship much sweeter was that it was handed to the Bolts by one of their longest-tenured players in Newsome. The 2-time PBA All-Star had his fingerprints all over Meralco’s title run, as his efforts on both ends of the floor helped stymie the vaunted San Miguel Beermen. It was thus well-deserved that Newsome was named Finals MVP of the 2024 Honda PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

For more than a decade, Meralco had to watch sister team TNT Tropang Giga win titles and get all the star players. Of course, the NLEX Road Warriors, the Bolts’ other sister team, haven’t fared well too, but championships have been the goal and that being said, they’ve both been stuck in the same spot.

Through it all, Meralco continued to grind and retool their squad each year, picking up players such as Allein Maliksi, Raymond Almazan, Chris Banchero, and Aaron Black without giving up valuable players the way Road Warriors or perennial MVP group trading partner Blackwater Bossing did.


The changes also included replacing longtime head coach Norman Black with Luigi Trillo and active consultant Nenad Vucinic (although we all know Vucinic really calls the shots for them). Consistency had been a hallmark during Black’s tenure as the Bolts head coach yet despite that, Meralco could not get over the hump and secure a title. Black was a well-loved coach both in and out of the organization, but at the end of the day, title results, or lack thereof, doomed him.

When Trillo and Vucinic stepped in, there were some growing pains, but the Bolts’ securing the Philippines’ breakthrough win in the East Asia Super League (EASL) was an omen for good things to come.

Playing in the EASL and the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the same time certainly wasn’t an easy thing to balance, but it prepared Meralco for the 2024 Philippine Cup. The series against NLEX was a breeze compared to going through the gauntlet of Ginebra and later on, the Beermen. Both teams had more talented frontcourts and experienced rosters overall, but the coaching of Trillo and Vucinic pulled through.

Against those opponents, it wasn’t so much about playing hard as it was playing smart. The Bolts picked their spots and knew when and where to put up the pressure. Those who tuned in may have seen Meralco play bully ball when in fact it was savvy play.

Many are wondering what the Meralco Bolts have in mind for the future, but for now, the Bolts deserve to bask in long-awaited championship glory. It was definitely not an easy task and the decisions that led to this point included some hard ones, but they had to be done for the job to be finished. And with hindsight in hand, Meralco would not think twice about doing it again.