By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Meralco Bolts’ aren’t done with their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) off-season moves after shipping away versatile forward Mac Belo in exchange for Rain or Shine’s center Norbert Torres.
After relegating former head coach Norman Black to a consultant role while upgrading Luigi Trillo as its new chief tactician, the Bolts just started its roster build-up for the upcoming PBA conference.
The Belo-Torres swap was already approved by the PBA board headed by commissioner Willie Marcial last May 18, 2023.
Feeling a need for a change in their frontcourt depth after failing to make the PBA finals again, Meralco made it known that they are seeking for a stronger paint presence after getting Torres.
Torres, one of the backup centers under head coach Yeng Guiao’s Rain or Shine, will be expected to bring toughness and added defense and will have the luxury to team up with former national team member Cliff Hodge.
Meanwhile, Belo, a former go-to guy when he was still with the Blackwater Elite, will have his resurgence year after not getting his usual minutes under the Meralco system.
From averaging 35 minutes of playing time, Belo failed to make Meralco’s strong eight-man rotation and sometimes didn’t suit up in tightly-contested ball games.
Belo is expected to rise under the mentorship of coach Guiao and will form a deadly frontcourt duo with veteran Beau Belga.
The sweet-shooting swingman will also be guided by one of the best small forwards to play in the PBA, defensive maestro Gabe Norwood.
Can Belo redeem himself and provide the expected impact upon arriving at Rain or Shine? Or will Meralco regret the trade?