Meralco coach Norman Black was conspicuously not with the Meralco delegation on PBA draft day Sunday.
The multi-titled mentor and grand slam coach can afford to do so, as the Bolts didn’t have a first round pick as the team already dealt that to Rain Or Shine in the Raymond Almazan trade.
Black’s son, Aaron, explained to ABS-CBN News why his dad wasn’t present at the draft, which signaled the start of the league’s new season.
“He’s actually just in the United States right now with his mom. She’s 85 years old now and we haven’t seen her since 2019, so she wanted to visit,” the younger Black said.
Aaron was at the table along with other members of the Bolts squad.
This year’s draftees could learn a thing or two from Black, one of the few late picks in the draft, who became the Rookie of the Year winner.
Black was selected 18th overall by the Bolts in the 2019 braft, but quickly played a vital role for his team’s near-finals stint in the first bubble tournament in Pampanga.
He continued his good showing this season and in Meralco’s fourth finals entry in the Governors’ Cup, with the second-generation player emerging as the most consistent local performer for his squad, averaging 16.83 points per game.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, they lost to the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings for the fourth time in as many championship meetings.
But Black was happy to make a huge contribution for his squad.
“I didn’t start off very well, but I’m glad I was able to pick it up,” he said.
“I welcome the personal accomplishments, but for me, the most important thing is winning. It’s disappointing to some extent. Alam ko naman kasi not every player gets to play in the finals. It was a blessing for me na andu’n kami sa finals, but at the same time, in my opinion, since we didn’t win it, it’s not a complete success for me.
“I’m very happy I was able to come out and play well and it was a lot of fun playing against the Ginebra crowd. I respect the Ginebra crowd how much they love their team. I’m happy I was able to come out and play well. I don’t think you don’t see that every time in sports, but at the same time, I’m blessed to play in the finals. Hopefully, sa susunod na makapasok kami, we can win it all.”
The father-and-son setup wasn’t easy both for the Blacks, as they needed to perform to be able to justify being together on the same team.
“Ngayon na two years na kaming magkasama sa team mas madali na ’yung situation ngayon compared sa start,” added the younger Black.
“At the start naga-adjust pa kami. How my teammates would look at it, how the people would look at it. Now, I just wanted to do everything I can na matulungan ko ’yung team ko na Manalo. My teammates know naman na I’m here to win and my dad is here to win as well. We all have a common goal.
“Alam ko naman ’yung mga tao will always have their opinion and they can always have things to say about it, but as long as I know in myself that I’m working hard, that I’m doing the things I need to do well to help my team, then I’m at peace with that.”
For Aaron, having big numbers in the final and trying to help out your team weren’t enough and what matters most was how getting the job done.
He learned this from his more senior rival, LA Tenorio, his hard court idol.
For the most part of the series, Black got the better end of the matchup with Tenorio, but in the last game of the series, the grizzled veteran and the league’s modern-day “Iron Man” showed up and towed his team to the championship.
Tenorio finished with 30 points.
“I learned a lot from Kuya LA. Kasi nakita mo naman when it mattered most, he really was the best player on the floor aside from Justin Brownlee. He came when it mattered the most – in the last game. I learned a lot from him and I learned a lot from the finals experience, the whole playoff exposure was big. Moving forward, I can understand what to expect once I’m being back there,” said Black.