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Sam Miguel

Ho-hum, Another Title For Norman Black

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After becoming bored shitless winning title after title in the UAAP, Norman Black might be on that same path to boredom in the pro league. Black tread a familiar path: some blowouts, some close shaves, a freak loss here and there. From the quarterfinals on it was a small, new wrinkle, little tweaks in the right places, and always, always saving something for the Finals. By the time it was all said and done his Talk N Text Tropang Texters had swept the surprisingly pushover Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters 4-0 in the 2012-2013 Philippine Cup Finals. TNT thus became only the third team in PBA history to sweep a Best-of-Seven Finals, the other two being Swifty Mighty Meaty and Purefoods. This was also an All-Filipino Grand Slam for the Tropang Texters, another record feat.

If I didn't know any better I would think he was deliberately re-living his UAAP reign in the PBA. Didn't he do this all throughout our 5-Peat? Made the other teams think they had a chance, played nice and smooth in the first round, tightened up a bit on D and played a little faster in transition in the second round, unveiled a side-push here and there in the Final 4, then totally goes medieval on the unfortunate Finals opponent's collective arses in the Finals.

TNT ran up 29-13 on a flurry of transition baskets in the first quarter, allowed the Elasto Painters to come within 65-63 in the third quarter, then took the victory running away yet again 105-82. Kelly Williams set the tone early with a highlight-reel putback slam. Ali Peek kept the furious RoS rallye at bay in the pivotal third period. Jimmy Alapag nailed crucial back-back treys in the fourth to bury RoS 100-78 time down to some four minutes and change. RoS just had no answer for the speed, athletic prowess and discipline of TNT.

Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, JR Quinahan, Paul Lee, Ryan Arana all muffed open layups, sometimes even in transition. Jeff Chan kept drawing iron without any cord. Chris Tiu and TY Tang wound up on the wrong side of at least a half-dozen switch coverages. Larry Rodriguez kept looking over his shoulder when taking shots in the paint, seemingly expecting an ambush block. Ronnie Matias was about as useful as a rabbit's foot. For a team that already knows what it is like to win a tough championship, RoS sure looked like bungling amateurs in this series, and more so in Game 4. But then again, Black has that effect on teams.

Black turned Jared Dillinger and Ryan Reyes into defensive stoppers. His clockwork ball movement on the motion offense saw Williams put on an alley-hoop show right from the get-go. Ranidel De Ocampo found himself working with more space than he ever got to launch those backbreaking three-pointers and operate in the low blocks. "This championship means a lot because I've been away for so long. I've always wanted to get back into the country's best league," a jubilant Black said. "I'm very happy for my players. I pushed them a lot and they worked hard for it. Credit goes to them," he added.

De Ocampo was adjudged the Finals MVP by the PBA Press Corps, while Jayson Castro won the BPC award.

Opposing PBA coaches better hope Black gets a lemon of an import for the upcoming Governors Cup opening on February 18. Because at the rate he is going, he might just complete a TNT grand slam that Chot Reyes failed to get. "We are of course very happy with this championship. Coach Norman just knows how to win. I'm very happy that he is back in the PBA, and more so that he is our coach. He made Ateneo a successful championship team, and I know he will keep doing the same for Talk N Text," said TNT head honcho Manny Pangilinan.

The rest of the PBA better just give Black his second career coaching grand slam and be done with it, or live with this for another several seasons.

Comments

  1. Sam Miguel's Avatar
    ^^^ I forgot to add that this is Black's 11th PBA title, putting him just behind Baby Dalupan and Tim Cone.

 
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