POWER has been supplied for Meralco in the coming 37th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The Bolts have beefed up their roster with what coach Ryan Gregorio referred to as his ‘Bakal Boys’ who’s expected to give the team the toughness it lacked the previous season.
The sophomore team landed Smart Gilas stalwart Jason Ballesteros in the first round of the recent PBA Draft (7th overall), along with his San Sebastian teammate Gilbert Bulawan (2nd round). Then the team signed from the free agent market former Letran player Bryan Faundo and the indestructible Mark Yee.
“They are what I call Meralco’s version of Bakal Boys,” said Gregorio, who momentarily left the Bolts’ coaching reins to assistant Ronnie Magsanoc heading into the new season after serving as one of coach Rajko Toroman’s lieutenants at Smart Gilas-Pilipinas in the 26th FIBA-Asia Championship For Men in Wuhan, China.
“I think we’re a much better team physically and mentally this season than last year with these players around.”
Also added into the fold are former Powerade gunners Mark Macapagal and Chico Lanete.
“We’re definitely solid in the 2 spot with the addition of Macapagal and Lanete, and the return of Mark Cardona,” Gregorio noted.
Mark Cardona and Chris Ross missed most of the Bolts’ games in the second and third conferences.
The arrival of Ballesteros, the former NCAA Most Valuable Player (MVP) also gives fresh legs to the Bolts’ frontcourt manned by 12-year veteran Asi Taulava, Reynel Hugnatan and Mark Isip.
Streak shooter Sol Mercado and forwards Nelbert Omolon and Gabby Espinas complete the Bolts’ roster for the 2011-12 season that kicks off on Oct. 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Player per-player we can’t compete yet with power teams like Talk `N Text, Petron or a B-Meg,” Gregorio admitted.
“But as a whole, we’re definitely going to be more competitive this time.”