THEY say defense wins championships, and no one knows that more than Norman Black.
With Black's defense-oriented system, it's no surprise that Talk 'N Text is on track to further cementing its place among the most successful All-Filipino teams in PBA history.
Defense again proved to be the key to the reigning champions’ 99-95 win over the Alaska Aces in Game Five of their Philippine Cup semis series, which gave the Texters a 3-2 lead and put them them within a win of a third straight trip to the Finals of the all-Filipino conference.
Black, who took over from national coach Chot Reyes shortly after leading Ateneo to a fifth straight UAAP championship, is now banking on that same defensive intensity as the two-time defending champions try to finish off the Aces in Game Six on Friday at the Astrodome.
“We have a tendency to play good defense on one game and seem to lose it in the next,” admitted Black. “Of course I give Alaska credit for that. They’re also a very good team, and they make adjustments as the series goes on.”
“But at the same time, we just have to come out with the same effort we had and execute like we did if we want to win and make it to the Finals,” he added.
Black, however, stressed that clinching a third straight stint in the Philippine Cup Finals is easier said than done.
Definitely not against a hungry Alaska team, which has not won the tournament the last 12 years.
“I figured it was going to be tough because they have a lot of young players, a lot of energy, and they have a lot of fight,” Black said. “They don’t give up and we really have to expend a lot of energy also if we want to beat them.”
Numbers have been enough proof to show how tough this best-of-seven series had been. For the third time in five games, the outcome was decided by five points or less.
That’s why Black, despite having one of the most feared rosters in the league, remains wary of the Aces.
“I think I’ve been around long enough to know not to take any team for granted, and this Alaska team is a good team,” the Grand Slam-winning mentor said.