Rival coaches Cone, Black show mutual respect as Game 7 looms
MANILA, Philippines - With the Governors’ Cup nearing its conclusion as Barangay Ginebra and Meralco Bolts dispute for the title in a winner-take-all Game 7, people would expect the players and coaches to have built a certain animosity towards one another.
But that isn't the case with Ginebra coach Tim Cone and Meralco tactician Norman Black.
The two rival coaches were at the middle of a heated exchange in Game 3 of the finals but that did not prevent Cone from expressing his deep regard for Black after the Bolts pulled off a 98-91 win in Game 6 that forced a rubber match.
“He’s taken, it’s a good team but it’s not a great team, it’s not a San Miguel, it’s not a Talk N Text, but he’s brought them all the way here to Game 6 in the finals,” said Cone.
Admittedly, Cone said he tried to pattern himself after Black when he entered the league as head coach for Alaska in 1989, the year Black he led San Miguel to a grand slam.
“He was the guy I emulated and copied as I took my coaching career forward. Honestly, if he didn’t spend all those years at Ateneo, he’d probably be the winningest coach right now, not me.”
But Black, who won a total of 5 championships with the Blue Eagles in the UAAP, downplayed Cone’s remark, saying the 59-year-old is “the winningest coach for a reason.”
“I myself and all the other coaches in the league are trying to catch him,” Black said. “He adjusts well every game, we can’t do the same thing twice against him because he’ll figure it out and he’ll find a way to beat you. He’s a competitor, there’s no question about that.”
The former PBA Best Import shared he and Cone have always been “friendly rivals,” going back to their years in college when Cone, according to Black, was part of the Team B at the American University that competed against his St. Joseph’s University.
In the PBA, the two coaches have faced each other for more than a decade with Cone winning 19 championships and Black garnering 8 titles.
“I can’t say we’re the type of friends that go out to dinner every night together, that’s not true. But whenever we have an opportunity to talk, whenever we have an opportunity to be around one another, we always have very good conversations and we’re always very nice to one another,” Black said.
Game 7 will be on Friday, October 27 at the Philippine Arena and Black said the winner will be decided by whichever team executes better.
“We’ve both done a lot this series, it’s the seventh game already. I don’t know how much more we can pull from our bag of tricks at this point, it may come down to just really executing well what we’ve done so far but I know for sure what we did tonight would be prepared for.” – Rappler.com