A tale of two coaches
Much has been written about the championship series between the Ginebra Gin Kings and the Meralco Bolts.
It was definitely a huge success as far as the gate receipts were concerned. The eight-year drought of Ginebra ended and their victory was very well received by the Ginebra fanatics.
Despite the inconsistent calls of the referees, who struggled implementing a new method of touch fouls, and the glaring noncall during the waning minutes of the fourth game that could have determined the outcome of the series, all in all the series was a box office hit.
Allow me to dwell on what was very special to me in this series, for it involves coaches who I have known for some time.
Norman Black was my former player and we have many good memories together and also share a championship.
Tim Cone and I always enjoy exchanging our views on basketball when we chance upon each other on the golf course.
The career of coach Tim will now be legendary in Philippine basketball. The support the Alaska organization had given him, especially during his early years as a coach when they stuck by him through thick and thin, plays a big role in this.
Before his move to the SMC franchise, he was already a champion coach with credentials that no player could dare question.
There have been many instances when star players of a team do not follow the style and coaching philosophy of their coach. And when the team doesn’t do well, management sometimes opts to change the coach instead of their star player. As for Tim, however, his players cannot question his system or his coaching philosophy. They have to follow him or else they are gone; he remains.
To me, Tim’s decision to finally change his offensive system from the Triangle to a more modern movement was one of the determining factors in winning this championship.
As for coach Norman, I could not help but admire and applaud how he made this series a close one.
He was able to maximize his players, whose talents and abilities were not equal to that of the other team.
And this is how I evaluate the performance of a coach: whether or not he is able to use the players he has, bring out what each of them can do to contribute to the team, and thereby maximize the entire team’s potential.
After this performance, I hope coach Norman is a given a big role in the next Gilas team. Besides being a former player and having coached collegiate basketball for several years, he has proven once again how deep and wide his grasp is of what it takes to build a team.