By Jonas Terrado
Norman Black is more concerned about leading Meralco to its first-ever PBA championship than embrace the prospect of adding another milestone to his well-accomplished career in the Philippines.
“Records are great,” Black said. “But this is about trying to win for Meralco.”
A victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals will make Black the first coach in league history to lead four teams to a title, as per the league’s chief statistician Fidel Mangonon.
Black is currently one of seven coaches to steer three teams to the PBA championship, the other being his Finals foe Tim Cone, Jong Uichico, Chot Reyes and fellow Grand Slam winners Baby Dalupan and Tommy Manotoc.
Moving past those great tacticians will further enhance Black’s coaching career that began in the mid-1980s when San Miguel Corporation boss Danding Cojuangco asked him to handle Magnolia in the PBA.
But as much as he appreciates being informed of the possible achievement, Black insists that he’s more interested on doing the task at hand.
“That would be great,” said Black. “(But) I don’t really think about all those things. This is for me is just winning a championship for Meralco. They’ve had a lot of confidence in me for the last five years.”
Meralco has never won a title since making its PBA debut in the 2010-11 season, falling short on its two attempts against Ginebra in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the third conference.
But Black expressed confidence that he now has a squad well-equipped to finally lift the elusive trophy.
“I think this is probably the best chance I’m gonna have to win a championship because I really think I have the team that can win it this time,” said Black, whose squad is led by import Allen Durham, Baser Amer and Chris Newsome coupled with some key additions during the course of the season.
“This is by far the strongest team I’ve coached since joining Meralco and I thank the management for supplying me with Raymond Almazan and Allein Maliksi and Nards Pinto to improve the talent level of our team to give us a chance to be in this situation.”
Black is prominently known for coaching San Miguel to nine championships, including the historic Grand Slam in 1989 with a squad bannered by Ramon Fernandez, Samboy Lim and Hector Calma.
He was also key in giving Sta. Lucia its first PBA crown in 2001 when import Damien Owens, Dennis Espino, Marlou Aquino, Paolo Mendoza and Black’s stepson Chris Tan beat SMB in six games.
His other title came in the 2013 Philippine Cup when TNT swept Rain or Shine with Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes and Harvey Carey.