BREAKING his silence, Ateneo coach Norman Black on Monday hit back at University of Santo Tomas’ Pido Jarencio for what he felt were “mean” comments that turned the battle on the sidelines in the UAAP Finals into an issue about race and nationalities.
Furious after the Tigers lost the opener of the best-of-three series on Saturday night, Jarencio launched a fiery tirade against the referees and league officials for what he felt were miscalls and non-calls in the second half that favored the Blue Eagles.
In the course of the post-game rant, the UST coach also laid into the referees for supposedly favoring Black: “Kailangan ba mag-e-English ako para paburan ako? Ganoon ba labanan dito? Nasa Pilipinas tayo, dapat tayong mga Pilipino mahalin niyang mga iyan.”
That obviously did not sit well with Black, who found the comment as “racist.”
“I think he crossed the line on that one. He made it personal,” Black told Spin.ph. “I can understand the frustration after the loss, but don’t make it like it’s a ‘He’s American and I’m Filipino’ thing. I think it’s unprofessional and I think it’s below the belt. I found it mean.”
The soft-spoken coach continued: “Look, I’m a black American coach who was born in Baltimore on the south side of the United States in 1957, so I know what discrimination is all about. I grew up knowing how it is to be refused service in a restaurant.
“I grew up in discrimination, so I know how it’s like. That’s why I treat people the way I do. I’ve lived in the Philippines for 32 years and I’m a Filipino, and not once have I looked down on anybody. I can proudly say that I have no reputation of that at all.
“I think it has no place in basketball or in society.”
Black, who is eyeing a fifth successive title in his final season with the Eagles before returning to the PBA as coach of Talk 'N Text, also said Jarencio was "demeaning" the league and the game by saying the Tigers lost Game One because of the calls of the referees.
"We lost to them (in the 2006 Finals) and you never heard me say anything bad about the referees. As a coach, you demean the game and the league when you say that you lost because of the referees. I think he's just making excuses," said Black, who coached Jarencio during his time with pro club San Miguel.
"We want fair calls the same way they do. But don't demean the game when you lose. It's very unprofessional."