ATENEO head coach Norman Black offered to resign in the wake of the falling-out between the school and the team’s top benefactor Manny Pangilinan, but was prevailed upon to finish the current UAAP season by the business mogul.
In a phone interview with Spin.ph from Hong Kong on Tuesday hours after emerging from a meeting with Pangilinan, the multi-titled coach said he felt compelled to tender his resignation after the businessman cut his ties with the school over “irreconcilable differences” on issues such as mining and the RH Bill.
It was under Pangilinan’s stewardship that Black assumed the reins at the Jesuit school, leading the Blue Eagles to four UAAP championships. The former PBA best import awardee has also been an employee of Pangilinan at Smart Communications during his eight years with Ateneo.
Even before the falling-out, Black was already set to step down as Ateneo coach at the end of the campaign to take over the coaching reins for the Pangilinan-owned Talk ‘N Text team in the PBA.
“I felt it was my responsibility to resign,” Black said as he detailed the events that nearly left the Eagles without their longtime head coach in the days leading up to the UAAP Final Four, where the four-time champions are the top seeds.
Black learned about the parting of ways on Friday but held off any comments until he had talked to MVP. “I wanted to talk to (Pangilinan) but he was still in Japan (with the Smart Gilas Pilipinas seeing action in the Fiba Asia Cup). I didn't want to talk until I get to talk to him,” he said.
When he finally got to sit down with Pangilinan on Friday, Black said MVP convinced him to stay put.
“He insisted that I stay. He said it was not correct to let all these issues affect the team,” Black told Spin.ph. “(Pangilinan) didn’t feel that the players or the team should suffer (for his decision to break ties with Ateneo). His heart is still with the players and the team.
“He wanted a status quo for the team.”
Black said he “felt sad” about how the relationship between Pangilinan and his alma mater ended. “It was sad that [Pangilinan] is having problems with Ateneo. But it is what it is. It is between MVP and the school,” he said.
Black said he has yet to talk to school officials since his meeting with MVP. “But they did not try to influence my decision one way or the other,” Black said.
But with the issue threshed out, Black said he is looking forward to focusing on the Eagles’ drive for a fifth successive championship.
“We’ve had a good run at Ateneo," he said. "It would’ve been quite hard not to finish what we started here.”