Meralco's surging success in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup has overshadowed rookie Bong Quinto's quiet emergence in the frontcourt.
Quinto's averages in the first two conferences of the season (3.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists on 40.5 percent shooting in 11.6 minutes per contest) did not merit attention, but coach Norman Black saw a capable two-guard who could play the 3 with ease.
"I actually think he's more of a 2, but luckily for me, he is strong enough to play the 3-position, and he's aggressive enough to play the 3 position," Black said after the Bolts' 101-77 win over Barangay Ginebra, where Quinto had 13 points, five rebounds and two assists in a start.
"He's a well-rounded player, he can score the basketball but he rebounds well, he plays good defense, and he's a very, very good assist guy. In other words, he's a good ball-mover, which we really need in that first team because a lot of the guys like to score in our first team. But he's been doing a great job for us."
That move is paying dividends so far in the season-ending conference, where Quinto has distinguished himself as the fourth-best local by averaging 7.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists on 53 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent shooting on 3-pointers over 24.4 minutes per game.
"Being a role player is really just my job in this team, to give space to AD, to convert on any opportunities given to me so I can stay in the game," Quinto said in Filipino. "I'm really focused on every game, every practice and if I see something that I can still provide, I'll do it."
Being thrust into a vital role has been an unexpected development for the do-it-all swingman, who fell to the second round of the 2018 PBA Draft after an impressive stint with the Letran Knights in the NCAA. Quinto, though, is eager to keep building on his gains.
"That's a thing of the past for me. I've moved on," Quinto said when asked about his draft day fall. "This is my dream, Meralco. I'm thankful that I'm given the chance, especially by Coach Norman, to show the talent that I have, that I belong in this league."
Quinto, standing at 6-foot-2, is undersized for the wing, but Black thinks the way the rookie often puts his fingerprints all over the action is enough to keep giving him chances at the position.
"I've been calling him the glue guy because that's basically what he's been for us. He's been the guy that doesn't need the basketball to score, but at the same time he does the little things that help us win. So as long as he continues to play like that, he will continue to get playing time," said Black.
"They told me I'm undersized, but I'm still right here performing. I took it as a challenge to show what I can do and what I can provide to any team, especially to Meralco," Quinto said.