Aaron Black has proven self, but isn’t stopping there
Meralco guard Aaron Black knows deep in his heart that proving himself will never stop despite being named the Outstanding Rookie of the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) extraordinary 45th season.
“This will definitely push me to work even harder,” he had said during the virtual rites aired on national television on Sunday night.
Black tabbed a once-in-a-career honor, besting Barangay Ginebra’s Arvin Tolentino, Terrafirma’s Roosevelt Adams, Alaska’s Barkley Eboña and Magnolia’s Aries Dionisio.
The 23-year-old lefty also made history by becoming the lowest draft pick, at 18th overall, to win the plum since Larry Fonacier, who was 14th overall, won in 2005 while with Red Bull.
And he hopes that serves as inspiration for athletes who are hoping to carve their niches in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
“I think it should inspire players coming up that you don’t have to be drafted in the first round to make a name for yourself,” he said.
Pushing harder is what Black has been doing, even way before a champion was crowned in the bubble. Or after Meralco was ousted in the Final Four by eventual champ Barangay Ginebra.
No less than his coach and father, Norman—a prolific import during his prime and a tactical genius—said that the first thing his son did after the Bolts’ semifinal run was to fine-tune his game for the next season, which has been penciled to start on April 9.
“Knowing Aaron, he likes to work on his game,” the Grand Slam coach said just before the Bolts left the bubble in late-December. “He’s probably getting back to the lab right away.”
“He now knows the things he has to work on to be successful in the PBA,” Norman added.
Indeed, Black began working on his game as soon as they returned to Manila.
“I really want to get my legs stronger,” Black, who tallied season averages of 6.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists, told the Inquirer.
“I want to make sure I could guard bigger guys. At 1 and 2, it can go from JP Calvo of Terrafirma—who is super quick—to Chris Ross of San Miguel Beer who is big and strong. So I really have to prepare for [any eventuality].”
Asked about his no-days-off attitude, Black said he owes it to the belief that “no matter how good you are, there’s always something to improve on.”
“Even guys like Paul Lee, Kiefer [Ravena]? I’m sure those guys are working on their games right now because they know they have more to improve on. So what more me? I’m coming to the next conference not satisfied at all,” he said.
It is also not lost on the younger Black that pundits have had a lot of things to say when he was picked by the Bolts.
“I was drafted outside the first round and I was drafted by my dad’s team, so I heard a lot of things throughout that time—whether I really belong in the league, if I could really play here.”
“I took that to heart. I made sure that each and every day I worked hard,” he added.
And Black hasn’t let a day pass without doing that and is undoubtedly doing his dad proud.