The son also rises

When Norman Black burst into the PBA scene in 1981 as an import, he had a chance to showcase his wares, averaging 51 points in 14 games for Tefilin, but the team was booted out early in the tournament.

He returned the following season to play for San Miguel Beer and led the squad to a 2-1 win over the powerhouse Crispa Redmanizers as the Beermen clinched the 1982 Invitational Conference best-of-three championship series.

Black would play until 1988 before he would concentrate to full-time coaching, where he became even more successful. He would collect 11 championships, including the grand slam in 1989. He is the only other active coach in the PBA to win at least a grand slam. 

Tim Cone, now coach of Barangay Ginebra, won two grand slams and emerged as the winningest coach in league history with 22 championships.        

Nearly four decades after, Norman’s son, Aaron Black, has a chance to put his name in the PBA history book as the lefty rookie guard is in strong contention for this season’s Rookie of the Year honors. Prior to entering the playoffs, the younger Black, who plays for his dad’s Meralco team, was second in the running for the most prestigious award for newcomers with an average of 18.7 statistical points, which were a few points behind the 20.3 SPs of Terrafirma Dyip’s Roosevelt Adams.

 Adams’ team has already been eliminated and carried the worse record in the tournament with 1-10 slate.

 Black, on the other hand, has become an integral part of Meralco’s first-ever semifinals entry in the Philippine Cup. By the end of the elimination round, he averaged 7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

In the playoffs, Black averaged 7.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

The younger Black has a legitimate chance of winning an individual award as a rookie and, if the Bolts can beat Ginebra twice in a row in the semis, he’ll have his chance of winning his first PBA title right on his first season.

Aaron’s early rise is something that makes his old man proud.

“I know last game he didn’t play very well,” the elder Black told The Link Podcast. “I didn’t announce it to anybody, but he was sick last game. I had a couple of players under the weather. Both he and Trevis Jackson were both sick. But Aaron has played well this conference. He’s one of the better rookies in the league. I think he has been a surprise to most, because he has performed very well against some of the top teams in the league. Of course, he’s a rookie and he has a lot of room for improvement and you never compare a rookie’s performance to Paul Lee because they don’t have that type of experience yet. Unless you’re CJ Perez, who was able to do it in his first year.”

“But Aaron has played well. I’m really proud of him. I’m happy for him. He seems to be a better player as a pro than he was when he was in college.”

Unlike his dad, who plays up front, Aaron, plays the guard spot, standing between 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2, but the latter’s versatility allowed him to play both the No.1 and No. 2 positions, making him more utilized on the court.

Prior to the PBA restart and even before the league embarked on a Bubble set up, the father and son were already plotting some of the things to be done. They may be playing different positions as a player, but they have a similar mentality when it comes to game approach.

 This early, the younger Black was able to develop the winner’s mentality. You can ask the reigning five-peat Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen, whose guards were outplayed by the rookie sentinel in the quarterfinals.

Now, Black is trying to hold his own against more seasoned veterans from Ginebra.

Norman, “That Old Black Magic” as what the late Pinggoy Pengson calls him, was known for his all-out performance every game, which was the reason why he was one of only two imports to be named “Mr. 100-Percent” by the PBA.

But his son is also rising and making his own mark this early. Daddy knows best and for Norman, he thinks he can utilize Aaron more with the Bolts and it has paid him good dividends.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if we see the younger Black winning this season’s Rookie of the Year honors.     

Topics: Norman Black , Aaron Black , Rookie of the Year , Meralco Bolts , Trevis Jackson
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