Norman Black takes on former team as Meralco Bolts tangle with Jong Uichico-mentored TnT
Coaches Norman Black and Jong Uichico lock horns for the first time since taking over different teams in the offseason. Jerome Ascano

MERALCO coach Norman Black faces his former team Talk ’N Text for the first time this season with the Bolts, shooting for their fourth win and a share of second place in the PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Black moved to the Bolts several months back as part of the coaching carousel within the teams owned by sportsman-businessman Manny V. Pangilinan. Uichico assumed the head coaching post vacated by Black at Talk ’N Text.

The American coach said he is taking the game like any other regular PBA match, opting to focus on his defensive strategies against the Bolts, ahead of their 7 p.m. match.

“It’s another big test for us, going up against one of the most talented teams in the league,” Black said.

Meralco whipped newcomer and sister team NLEX, 90-75, last week for its third win in four starts.

Talk ’N Text, on the other hand, trounced KIA, 85-62 behind a strong second half effort.

Uichico is using a dribble-drive offense, a system that brought multiple champions for the Talk ’N Text franchise the past four seasons.

Since Talk ’N Text has multiple gunners from Jayson Castro, rookie Kevin Alas, Ryan Reyes and Jimmy Alapag at guard, Larry Fonacier at the wing spot and Ranidel de Ocampo as well as Jay Washington, Black said their goal is be disciplined in their perimeter defense.

“The keys are limiting their penetrations to the basket, and also, being able to close out on their shooters,” explained Black, who steered the Tropang Texters to the Philippine Cup two seasons ago.

Both teams are operating without legitimate big men, though the Bolts have two energetic forwards in Cliff Hodge and Sean Anthony.

The 6-foot-4 Hodge is a double-double machine for Meralco, averaging 14.0 points and 12.5 rebounds this season, while Anthony, an off-season acquisition, norms 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.

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