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Brandon Bates, the Bolts, and beans

PBA: Brandon Bates of the Meralco Bolts

Coffee has been an important part of Brandon Bates' life story.

Before being a champion in the PBA, it was reported that Bates had tried his hand at working as a barista.

In his personal life, it was also a photo of a coffee shop that led to how Bates and Rocio Trillo, whom he is currently dating, started going out.

"I posted an Instagram story of a coffee shop then he DM-ed (direct message) me," Rocio, the daughter of head coach Luigi Trillo, shared with GMA News Online.

"She slid in first alright. She followed me," Bates jested.

"Following isn't a move," Rocio countered.

Asked what type of coffee he could compare the championship with, Bates said, "Spanish latte. Sweet is the right word. It's also one of her favorites."

Love stories aside, Bates' journey to becoming a PBA champion was much like coffee beans that needed to be ground first before being mixed to perfection.

Prior to joining Meralco in the pros, Bates played sparsely for De La Salle University in the collegiate ranks before heading back to Australia.

But fate drew him back to the Philippines, where he suited up for Platinum Karaoke in the PBA 3x3. That led him to getting drafted eighth overall by the Bolts in the 2023 PBA Draft.

It didn’t take long before he became a crucial member of the Bolts squad, including this finals series.

In Game 6, Bates was limited to three points, but grabbed six rebounds and proved crucial to Meralco’s defense.

Now, he can call himself a PBA champion.

"I can tell everyone, it's so surreal. It's like a movie to me honestly," Bates said about his basketball journey in the country.

"I'm still waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up. I feel like tomorrow, I'm going to have to wake up and play Game 6 again. It's unreal. I'm just so happy that I was able to experience it, especially in my rookie year."

—JMB, GMA Integrated News