COACHING in the UAAP was an experience like no other for Ateneo coach Norman Black.
“The atmosphere, there's nothing like it,” said Black when he was asked by a scribe on what he will miss most in the UAAP during the postgame interview after Ateneo captured the Season 75 crown.
“I coach Ateneo but I’m in love with the ‘Go USTe, Go USTe,” Black said, while humming the popular UST chant. “I have it ringing in my head all the time.”
“The atmosphere is unbelievable. Something that I never experienced since maybe the Crispa-Toyota days,” he added.
Black first got involved with Ateneo in 2004 as a consultant then moved on as head coach in 2005. The first few years were a struggle but after finding the right players for his team, they began winning.
“It’s been a blur for me… The hardest thing to do in sports is to continue winning. They say that the most difficult is the first (title) but the most difficult for me is to continue winning… More people are trying to bring you down, every team you face, they bring their ‘A’ game every night,” Black said.
“It’s hard to win one championship, let alone five.”
As he moves on as head coach of Talk ‘N Text in the PBA, he leaves Ateneo with five straight championships and a basketball program that has been the class of collegiate basketball.
Under Black’s stewardship and the support of top patron Manny Pangilinan, the Blue Eagles built a successful basketball program that was able to recruit blue-chip players like Kiefer Ravena, Greg Slaughter and Nico Salva.
“I would like to be remembered for as a coach building a foundation for a successful program… When I first came in, what we did in the next few years after that is we went out to the countryside and we started to recruit, try to get the best players we can to play for Ateneo and we also wanted to bring players who wanted to study also in Ateneo… It became very successful and because of that, it will continue to be strong even though I will leave.”
Of course, success came with the hard work the players had put in all year round.
“It is something that I’m very proud of. They are the ones who put in all the hard work. A lot of people don’t know this but we have a year-round program. In fact, a week from now, we will be heading to the University Games (in Bacolod). We work the entire year and we pushed our players a lot. We asked a lot out of them, and they came up big for us. They came up big for myself, for the community and the school.”
Black also gave credit to Pangilinan, team manager Paolo Trillo along with a host of other personalities which were involved behind the scenes.
“Special thanks to MVP for supporting the team. People don’t understand how involved he is and how much he means for us,” Black said.