FIVE months after winning a fifth straight UAAP men’s basketball title, Ateneo coach Norman Black is still basking in the glow of the rare feat.
Black represented the Blue Eagles in receiving the Athlete of the Year award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association during its Annual Awards Night on Saturday at the Manila Hotel.
Now head coach of Talk `N Text, Black until now remains amazed by what the Blue Eagles achieved last October when they swept the University of Santo Tomas for the title.
“It is kinda difficult what this team did,” Black said in his speech on behalf of his multi-titled team.
“Normally when you win one championship, it’s hard to repeat. But to keep the players focused on their goal and really continue to work hard is very difficult,” said the coach.
Aside from Black, also receiving the Athlete of the Year plums were co-winners Manila big league softball team and women’s world boxing champion Josie Gabuco.
Nonito Donaire was the other recipient of the coveted award but failed to make to the affair as he is deep in his preparations for his April fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Gabuco emerged as the first Filipina boxer to win a gold in the World Women’s Boxing Championship after beating hometown bet Xu Shiqi, 8-7, in Qinhuangdao, China last year.
Team Manila, meanwhile, went home with the Big League Softball World Series crown following a 14-2 victory over California in the championship game.
Aside from expressing her thanks to the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines and other officials, Gabuco gave credit to his coaches for making the world title possible while also honoring the other athletes in attendance.
“Gusto kong magpasalamat sa Panginoon na lahat tayong nandito ay binigyan ng talento sa larangan ng sports,” Gabuco said.
“Kahit matitigas ulo namin, pinu-push talaga kami na ma-acheive yung pagiging world champion,” said Gabuco, referring to her coaches. “Iniintindi nila ang mga pangangailangan namin.”
Team Manila, meanwhile, vowed to do its best to defend the world crown this year.
“We humbly pray for your continued support,” said Team Manila player Glesyl Opjer. “We promise to work harder and hope to see you all again this year.”