THE basketball blunder committed by University of the East’s Paul Varilla in Season 78 of the UAAP Wednesday night brought back memories of a similar bonehead play carried out 30 years ago in no less than an official PBA game.
And multi-titled coach Norman Black, now the man at the helm of the Meralco Bolts, remembered every sequence of the incident as if it happened only yesterday.
As then playing-coach of Magnolia, Black watched in horror from the bench as back-up big man Carlson Samlani scored an own goal during a 1985 game between the Ice Cream Makers and Beer Hausen witnessed by a full-house crowd at the ULTRA (now Philsports Arena).
The 57-year-old Black said Beer Hausen had just missed a basket when the lanky, 6-foot-5 Samlani made the boo-boo.
“I believed he got the defensive rebound and Mon Fernandez yelled at him, ‘Tira, tira.’ I think he even pump-faked Mon before he made the basket. And all I remember was the arena was laughing for the next 15 minutes, they wouldn’t stop laughing,” recalled Black.
Instead of getting angry at the Magnolia big man, Black did the next best thing – he just let Samlani stay in the game for a while.
“I left him in the game actually because I thought if I took him out right away he might lose his confidence forever. So I left him out there for another two to three minutes and I took him out,” said the grand slam coach.
Black also didn’t admonish his player.
“The entire Philsports arena which was packed, was laughing for quite a bit, so I didn’t really have to say anything to him anymore. I think the damage was done already,” the ever humble coach said.
Black’s recollection of the Samlani experience came just hours after Varilla scored the first basket of the game between the UE Red Warriors and University of Santo Tomas at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Unfortunately, the UE stalwart scored on the wrong goal.
Fortunately, the Warriors went on to win the match, 91-77, with Barilla finishing with 10 points – made that 12 had his first basket been credited to him.
Black said he has no idea as to where the 55-year-old Samlani is now. The player went on to average 3.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 171 games playing for U-Tex, San Miguel, and Great Taste from 1982-86.
And the coach also has no idea as to whether the Ice Cream Makers won the game or not.
“I have no idea.I remember the incident, but I don’t remember if we won,” he said smiling.