US basketball

Black calls Quinto one of biggest draft steals in PBA history

Delfin Dioquino
Black calls Quinto one of biggest draft steals in PBA history
Bong Quinto keys Meralco back to the PBA finals with the finest game of his young professional career

ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Without a doubt, Bong Quinto is a major draft steal in the PBA this season, but to Meralco coach Norman Black, he might be one of the biggest in the entire history of the league. 

Black still could not wrap his head around how the Bolts managed to nab Quinto in the second round of the draft, especially after the rookie keyed the Bolts back to the finals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.

The former Letran Knight had his finest PBA performance to date with a career-high 19 points as Meralco dispatched TNT, 89-78, in Game 5 of their best-of-five semifinals duel on Monday, December 23. 

Quinto waxed hot in the final quarter, scoring a personal 8-1 blitz to start the period that led to the 14-3 run the Bolts used to pull away from the KaTropa after holding a slim 66-61 lead through 3 quarters.

He also shot a perfect 3-of-3 clip from long distance and had 3 rebounds to boot in 36 minutes as a starter. 

“Bong Quinto has been a revelation. Like I’ve said before, I was literally shocked when we picked him in the second round. I couldn’t believe he was sitting there,” Black told reporters after the game. 

“He might be one of the biggest steals ever in the history of the PBA draft and he’s just one of those guys that does everything.”

A triple-double machine in the NCAA, Quinto was touted as a first-round prospect last year, but he did not hear his name called after the first 12 picks. 

Fortunately, Meralco selected him at No. 14 overall in the second round and Quinto has since proven the franchise he is worthy of the gamble. 

“I’ve learned over the years that if you could get players who are versatile and can do more than one thing and play more than one position, they probably can help you win games,” Black added. 

“Bong Quinto is a good defender, he’s a good shooter, he’s a good assist guy, and he’s really contributed a lot to the team.” 

Repaying the trust

Quinto admitted he questioned his abilities following the first-round snub. 

“It became a challenge for me – not hearing my name in the first round. I asked myself what do I lack? What do I need to do? But I’ve already moved on,” Quinto said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

That only pushed him to polish the rough edges in his game, putting in the work with the Bolts’ assistant coaches on his dribbling, shooting, and defense. 

His improvement showed in the semifinals series as he averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.0 steal. 

It was also only in the Governors’ Cup where Quinto breached double figures in scoring in the entire season, doing so twice against the KaTropa in the Final 4. 

“Of course, I need to repay their trust in me,” Quinto said. 

Now, Quinto shifts his focus on winning his PBA title, with Meralco eyeing redemption against Barangay Ginebra in the third time they will vie for the Governors’ Cup crown in the last 4 seasons.

“I’m really happy. Before the year ended, Lord gave us a Christmas gift to experience the finals,” Quinto said. “I’m excited for the finals.”

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.