Black expects Meralco to adjust, not resist PBA’s physicality
MANILA, Philippines – Three decades of coaching experience, mostly in the PBA, has taught Norman Black that physicality in the league is not to be repelled. Rather, it is to be accepted and dealt with head on.
“This is the PBA,” the former Grand Slam champion and now Meralco head coach said following a grinding contest against Rain or Shine Sunday, June 21. “Physicality is part of the game.”
It was a rugged kind of night for the Bolts with a heated match-up that ended in a tough 96-89 defeat and a lost chance at a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.
Both teams played hard-nosed, unforgiving basketball in the first half, which resulted to tempers flaring, a technical foul, an ejection, as well as more than a few staredowns and yelling.
First half action saw Chris Tiu and Kelly Nabong crashing onto the Meralco bench at the 1:45 mark of the second as they chased after the loose ball. As Tiu tried to remove Nabong’s weight on him, Jared Dillinger was seen pushing Tiu, which eventually caused Nabong to temporarily flail and kick.
Dillinger was called for a technical as Tiu and Nabong kept getting into each other’s nerves.
Things escalated nearing halftime after Rain or Shine’s Jireh Ibañes hacked Meralco import Andre Emmett hard with both arms in transition. He was assessed a flagrant foul penalty 2 and was consequently ejected from the game.
Meralco then blew its 13-point lead and allowed Rain or Shine to come back in the third and pull away in the fourth to seal its 6th win in a row and the twice-to-beat advantage.
Though his team crumbled, Black believes the physical nature of the game is never a good enough excuse.
“I don’t think the physicality of the game is a factor here in the PBA. The players should be used to that already,” he explained as he admitted one of his team’s crucial weaknesses.
“Rain or Shine is a very good team. They’ve been winning for quite a few years now. Most of their nucleus has been together for quite a while so they know how to handle pressure situations.”
Black, too, was not immune to the tensions Sunday night as he and Painters head coach Yeng Guiao had words for each other in the first half. At one point, Guiao marched over to the Bolts’ bench and addressed Black face to face. But Black did not back down.
“I just wanted to make it perfectly clear to him that I’ve been coaching just as long as he has so I don’t wanna hear it. That’s basically it,” Black explained what transpired on the court, clarifying that he always leaves his emotions on the floor.
“It’s just part of the game. That’s Yeng Guiao,” he said. “I’m a professional. Once the game’s over, it’s over. I don’t take it off the court.”
“I just felt like Rain or Shine’s one of the most physical teams in the league. No sense arguing about it. Just play physical and may the best team win,” Black added.
Guiao likewise showed his professionalism as he engaged in conversation and laughed with Meralco team owner Manny V. Pangilinan after conducting post-game interviews.
The Bolts remain in the top 8 and are aiming for a strong finish in their final elimination round game against KIA on Wednesday, June 24.
“Now it’s all about placing and having a little bit of confidence and momentum going into the next round,” Black said. “That’s really our focus.” – Rappler.com