FOR someone with whom he had been through both good and bad times in the past, rookie Chris Tiu does feel a bit ill at ease going up against his former coach in his quest for a first-ever PBA championship.
The celebrated freshman of Rain or Shine confessed that it’s going to be a new experience having Norman Black at the other side of the fence when the Elasto Painters and two-time reigning champion Talk `N Text face off in the Philippine Cup Finals starting on Wednesday.
“This is going to be something new,” said Tiu during the pre-Finals press conference at the Gateway Suites.
The No. 7 pick overall in the last rookie draft won a UAAP men’s basketball championship with Black at the helm during the 2008 season when he played his final year with Ateneo. Two years earlier, Tiu was also a part of the same Eagles team that finished runner-up to University of Santo Tomas in Black’s first-ever UAAP Finals stint.
The two were reunited later when Norman handled the Sinag-Pilipinas team that bagged the gold medal in the Indonesia Southeast Asian Games in 2011.
“So ever since Ateneo, I’ve already been playing under coach Norman and his coaching staff, coach Sandy (Arespacochaga) and coach Mike (Jarin),” said the 27-year-old rookie who is also part-time television personality.
At the same time, Tiu didn’t hide the fact that Talk `N Text has somewhat been a part of his playing career since its owner, Manny V. Pangilinan, is likewise the major backer of both the Ateneo basketball team and Smart Gilas-Pilipinas of which Tiu was among its original members.
“On a personal note, Talk `N Text has been a team that is close to my heart over the years, from management, coaching staff, even the players,” he said.
But now that he’s with Rain or Shine, his loyalty is definitely with coach Yeng Guiao and the Elasto Painters, he assured.
“As what coach Norman and and coach Yeng said, it’s going to be a battle; it’s going to be a war. We have to do what we have to do to win games,“ he said. “It’s a Finals series, so we will have to do our job, I have to do my job.
“There’s nothing personal. We will be friends again afterwards.”