Joining dad at Meralco, Aaron Black out to prove he’s more than just the coach’s son
Father and son shared a car ride on the way to the PBA Rookie Draft at Robinson’s Manila in December last year.
It was one of the last free rides Aaron Black would get from his dad. The former Ateneo cog knows it.
“First of all, I didn’t want a free ride to the league,” Aaron said.
And in the unlikely event he forgets that, Meralco coach Norman Black—legendary import, PBA Grand Slam mentor and owner of five straight UAAP titles—doubled down on the message.
“If I do draft you, I’m not drafting you because you’re my son,” Norman recalled telling Aaron on that car ride. “I’m picking you because I think you can help us win games and a championship.”
The 6-foot-1 Aaron, three inches shorter than his iconic father, watched his stock grow after strong performances in the PBA D-League and the MPBL. The Draft had him squarely in the sights of Meralco and he figured there’d be a lot of talk if he got drafted by the Bolts.
“It’s not fair so I took the past year as a challenge to be someone deserving to be drafted,” Aaron said.
He did just that, at times in front of his dad, who doubled as a coach scouting for talent and a father cheering his son on. Aaron was putting in incredible numbers for AMA Online Education, once dishing out 45 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists in the D-League and also showed his versatility in the MPBL, playing for Quezon City and, later, for Zamboanga. Aaron also played in the Jones Cup last year representing Mighty Sports, which went on to claim the crown.
“I only felt he was ready to play in the PBA when I saw him in the D-League and in the MPBL,” Norman said of his son, who won two UAAP titles at Ateneo.
“He’s got a lot of room for improvement,” he added. “He’s willing to work. I thought Aaron fits as a player we needed on the team being someone who can do more than one thing.”
Norman tabbed Aaron with the No. 18 pick in the Draft and the two will now join hands in hunting for the Bolts’ first title.
Aaron gets to learn more about the game from his father, who introduced him to the sport when he was four years old.
Aaron recalled the time his father, an 11-time champion coach in the PBA and two-time best import awardee, would teach him how to rebound first, before they even did shooting drills. Norman would hold the ball in his hand and coax little Aaron into trying to snatch the basketball with two hands.
Those drills at the garage evolved as Aaron grew taller: He now had to track down loose balls and missed shots, learning about rebounding angles.
Not the first
Aaron was a regular on his father’s summer basketball camps, although he did not play under him at Ateneo. Norman left Katipunan and returned to the PBA after steering the Blue Eagles to a fifth straight title in 2012.
Aaron will be the second son teaming up with Norman: “Technically, he’s not the first.”
Chris Tan, Norman’s stepson who is now part of the Meralco coaching staff, drilled the game-winner in a 75-72 Game 6 win for Sta. Lucia over San Miguel Beer—a victory that gifted Norman the championship in the 2001 Governors’ Cup. Norman married Tan’s mother, Benjie, in 1984.
“Hopefully he does help Meralco win a championship,” Norman said.
Nothing about Aaron’s path to the PBA has been easy. He has struggled with injuries, including an ACL tear just before his senior year in high school.
“It was devastating and that type of injury happening at a young age could discourage players, but Aaron just loves the game,” Norman said. “He came back after eight months.”
Aaron also had to wait for his chance at Ateneo, spending his first season in Team B. He became a key contributor in the first of the current Ateneo three-peat in 2018, but an injury on his fourth year at Ateneo limited his minutes.
Aaron then went on to forego his final year of eligibility for the Eagles, after finishing with a degree in communications. Norman proudly pointed out that Aaron actually made the dean’s list twice as a student-athlete.
“I’ve always told him that once he’s in the PBA, he has to prove himself all the time,” Norman said. And the younger Black plans to do just that.
“I think I can definitely come in and help the team,” Aaron said. “I can push the pace of the game and on the other end, I can defend different positions.” INQ
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