That old (Norman) Black magic
When Freddie Roach achieved the ultimate with Filipino boxing superhero Manny Pacquiao, the famous American trainer got the extreme compliment.
He was named trainer of the year a total of five times.
For having helped Pacquiao reach the highest peak in his great career, capturing eight world titles in separate weight classes, Roach was also assured of enshrinement in boxing’s Hall of Fame.
Last year though, Roach’s brilliant run hit a snag.
He lost all his major bouts, including two by Pacquiao, capped by the Pacman’s tragic fall against Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez.
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Has Roach—and Pacquiao, for that matter—lost his magic?
Let’s hope not, because Pacquiao will need loads and loads of Roach’s genius if our national boxing superhero is to regain a measure of success and respect this year.
Anyway, out on the national basketball front, one tested and talented mentor, a former NBA player, has been weaving his own magic.
Call that black magic because our man of the hour happens to be coach Norman Black of the highly successful Talk ‘N Text team in the PBA.
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Before his sensational steerage of the MVP franchise to a record third straight Philippine Cup title, Black had also given the Ateneo Blue Eagles a record “five-peat” title run in the UAAP.
These achievements, of course, cannot compare with what Freddie Roach had achieved before suffering a bleeding nosedive.
But, like it or not, Black should be getting more than just plaudits and pats on the back for a job very well done.
Shouldn’t he also be given the ultimate honor?
If so, how do they do it?
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It’s like this: There was one thing they failed to ask coach Norman when he faced sports scribes at the Scoop Kamayan media event on Padre Faura last week.
So, like it or not, this reporter takes this opportunity to shoot the question.
Would Black be willing (and ready) to coach the Smart Gilas national team that will bid for the Fiba Asia Cup to be disputed in Manila this year?
Pardon, but this could be a silly, senseless question because we’ve not checked on the terrain, including the conditions and contracts in the national team backyard.
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If, say, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, headed by the respected tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, has an indefinite contract with coach Chot Reyes, then forget it.
However, we find it our duty to bat for Black because of the acute need for a strong, respectable showing for the national basketball team that will wage war before a home crowd.
Reyes may have more than the necessary credentials required by the SBP.
For the record though, Black has also gone through the grinder in his past stints with the national basketball team.
He was assistant to Robert Jaworski when the national team finished in the silver behind powerhouse China during the 1990 Beijing Asian Games.
He finished out of the medal race in a succeeding national coaching stint in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.
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However, it has become quite evident how Black has metamorphosed into a super tactician through all these trying years.
He has developed into an unbending fighter of a coach that has got firm and sound resolution.
Yes, resolution. This was firmly demonstrated in his title series against the feared physical but floor-bound Rain or Shine bangers of coach Yeng Guiao.
Coach Norman played it magically by pushing the game a few inches above the floor, courtesy of his winged, fleet-footed backcourt snipers.
Opposition, naturally, was left to either gasp for breath or clasp at thin air.
The result was an incredible sweep.