MANILA, Philippines – Mike Tolomia was admittedly shocked to find himself changing teams in just his first season in the PBA.
Taken by Rain or Shine in the 2017 Rookie Draft for Gilas Cadets, Tolomia struggled to get regular playing time with the Elasto Painters, averaging only 10.1 points per game after two conferences, with averages of 4.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per contest.
Last Monday, it was announced that Tolomia was on his way to the Meralco Bolts, in exchange for fellow Gilas Cadet Ed Daquioag.
“Nagulat ako na ganoon kabilis na nagkapalitan agad kami ni Ed,” Tolomia said on Thursday, during the official send-off for Southeast Asian Games athletes at the CITEM-DOT Hall One Pavilion.
Tolomia said that as a rookie, he has come to consider his teammates and coaches at Rain or Shine his family, and that he is thankful for all that he learned with the Elasto Painters.
Now, however, he is turning his attention to the Bolts, where he is expected to form a dangerous combination with up-and-coming point guard Baser Amer.
“Noong kinausap ako nila coach Norman (Black), ‘yun talaga ang plan nila, ‘yun ang vision nila,” Tolomia said of forming a partnership with Amer. “So sana, mag-work. Pagta-trabahuhan ko ‘yun.”
Amer has developed into one of the best young point guards in the PBA in his second season, and the former San Beda star is averaging 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists per game for the Bolts in the ongoing Governors’ Cup.
Tolomia said he is ready to both be Amer’s main back-up off the bench, as well as to play alongside him.
“Ang sabi ni coach Norman, hindi lang ako magre-relieve kay Baser. Minsan daw, pwede kaming mag-sabay, so dapat marunong din ako mag-play ng combo guard position,” he explained. “Ready lang ako, at pinag-aaralan ko.”
A return to his original position of shooting guard will also be welcome, Tolomia said, especially with a point guard of Amer’s caliber around.
“Kung meron kang ganoon kagaling na point guard, bakit ‘di mo gamitin, ‘di ba?” Tolomia pointed out.
Tolomia practiced with Meralco for the first time on Wednesday, and said the team welcomed him warmly. He is already looking forward not just to playing with Amer, but also learning from Meralco’s coaches – Black, Jimmy Alapag, and Ronnie Magsanoc.
“Masaya ako na tinanggap nila ako sa team nila, at masaya rin ako na makakatulong ako sa team,” said Tolomia.
For now, however, both Tolomia and Amer will first turn their attention to the SEA Games, where they will try to bring home another basketball gold medal together with the rest of Gilas Pilipinas.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.