He actually works on that shot, but to have made it in an actual game with high stakes left Aaron Black amazed and thankful at the same time.
Meralco disposed of Magnolia in a grindout affair to reach the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals on Wednesday night, and it goes without saying that a huge part behind the triumph was the third-year combo guard’s heroics.
As Chris Newsome deferred to him, he nailed a tough jumper against the tight defense of Jio Jalalon to beat the buzzer and send the game into overtime, where the rest of the Bolts stepped up to eke out the 113-107 victory.
“It’s always hard to shoot in front of Jio. It was definitely a tough shot. But it’s something I work on in practice, the bump to midrange,” Black, who has his skills training at Better Basketball, told reporters moments after the match at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“Haven’t really been able to shoot it sa regular game, so thankfully, nagawa ko sa endgame pa, sa most important shot,” he added.
The second-generation cager wound up with 16 points and 12 rebounds but that clutch shot was undeniably the magnum opus of his body of work.
It also marked yet another playoff moment for the young star, something that he’s never shied away from doing since entering the league in 2020.
The 2022 Philippine Cup semis alone saw him come through with one of the best playoff performances this season, where he scored Meralco’s last 11 points to force their series against San Miguel to a Game 7 through a 96-92 win.
Now this shot, which has enabled the Bolts to go back to the semis by booting out the Hotshots for the second Governors’ Cup in a row.
Black, however, deflected the credit to his teammates, although the drive to maximize their win-once quarters incentive also served as fuel.
“Siguro nalalagay lang din ako ng mga teammates ko in the right spots to make shots. For me kasi, siyempre ‘pag ganito, ayaw mo nang ipa-second game eh, especially ‘pag twice-to-beat kayo,” said the 26-year-old product of Ateneo.
“Kasi hindi mo rin alam with such a good team like Magnolia, we really wanted to end it today. Thankfully we were able to do that. ‘Pag playoffs, I just try to lock in and make sure na I really help my team in any way I can.”
Now, Black and Co. shift their focus to the best-of-5 semis against TNT in an all-MVP affair starting on Friday, where eyes will surely be on him if he could have another defining moment against the no. 1 team in the league.
“They’re a tough team, they got a lot of players that can really score the ball. So we’re gonna have our hands full on defense,” he offered, “We really have to defend well in this series kasi nga sila ‘yung no. 1 offense.
“Should be a good series, no. 1 defense versus no. 1 offense.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.