IT'S by no means easy to be in Norman Black's shoes these days.
The guy, for one, practically lives at the Moro Lorenzo Gym inside the Ateneo campus as he presides over the Blue Eagles' quest for a fifth successive UAAP championship while laying the groundworks for his takeover as head coach of the Talk 'N Text Texters in the PBA.
The multi-titled coach has at least partly made it easier on himself by scheduling the Eagles and the Texters' practices on successive slots at the Ateneo gym, with the Texters taking to the court from 1-4 p.m. and the Eagles practicing from 6-9 p.m. after their school obligations are over and done with.
Despite the cluttered schedule, it is also clear where Black's priorities lie.
“At this point, my priority is to help Ateneo win the (UAAP) championship. The UAAP is going down the stretch and I think there’s going to be a one-week overlap between our schedule in the UAAP and the PBA. But that’s what we’re working on as of the moment,” Black told Spin.ph.
The American coach, tapped to take over the TNT coaching reins from Smart Gilas coach Chot Reyes, has started handling the Tropang Texters' practice sessions more than two weeks ago. The buildup, however, has been far from smooth.
Talk ’N Text had difficulty putting away a pesky Meralco side in their preseason game on Monday before finally hacking out a 104-101 decision at the Meralco gym in Ortigas. Black will also be forced to miss a pocket tournament in Cebu next week, with assistant Nash Racela taking over the reins.
Time is also not on Black's side as he crams to put his system in place at Talk 'N Text with a little over two weeks to go before the start of the season.
“The team is trying to learn the new system I’ve brought into the team," Black, who won a grand slam with San Miguel in the pro league, said.
Fortunately for Black, he has been part of Reyes' staff as a coaching consultant handling the Texters' defensive patterns the past three years, making the transition easier.
Inheriting a formidable and almost intact lineup that has routinely won and contended for championships under Reyes is also a major plus, with former league MVPs Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag as well as Ryan Reyes, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jared Dillinger and Larry Fonacier leading the charge.
"Of course, there hasn’t been much of a transition for me as far as the PBA is concerned since I’ve served as the team’s consultant for the last three years," said Black. "The only adjustment now is that I’m gonna be coaching Talk ’N Text.”