MANILA, Philippines – Norman Black knows he is nearing the end of his career in the UAAP, but the Ateneo head coach insists he remains focused at the task at hand.
The Blue Eagles will be gunning for their fifth straight championship when the UAAP Season 75 Finals tip off on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena. They are up against the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, the team that has given them the most trouble this season.
But win or lose, it will be Black’s last two or three games as the Ateneo head coach. He will leave the team at the end of the season to become the head coach of the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters in the PBA.
“I haven’t really thought about it at this moment,” Black said when asked if he has thought about the end of his UAAP coaching career. “It’s more about trying to prepare the team, to give them a chance to win.”
“I don’t really think about the last two games or the last one game at this point. I’m just trying to stay within the moment,” he added.
If the Blue Eagles win their fifth consecutive title at the expense of the Tigers, it will be a fitting send-off for Black. He led Ateneo to the UAAP Finals in Season 69, but UST upset them in three games.
“I’ll try to study UST next and figure out how we can beat them, to convince my team to go out and execute the game plan,” he said. “That’s basically my thought pattern right now.”
“I’m not really thinking about the end of the road, even though I know it’s there,” Black said.
Black is expecting a tough series against the Tigers, especially as the two teams split their two meetings in the elimination round.
In the first round, the Tigers rallied from a 19-point deficit to win 71-70, but in the second round, the Blue Eagles got their revenge, 68-66.
“It should be a very good series, it should be a very competitive series,” he said. “UST is a very well-rounded team, they have the guards, they have the small forwards, they have the bigs, especially with Karim Abdul. It’s gonna be another tough game for us.”