There is only one coach in the PBA that knows the pressure that comes with being an import
Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black is one of the most highly-regarded foreign players to ever grace the Big League, winning two Best Import honors while leading the San Miguel Beermen to a championship back in 1982.
So when current Meralco guest player Alex Stepheson could not deliver even against TNT’s locals during Game One of their best-of-three quarterfinals series Monday night, Black was visibly irked.
“For me, as a former import, it would’ve been insulting for the other team not to start their import.
“I mean, if you did that against me, I’m gonna get 50 on you,” said Black, who averaged 51.0 points per game back in 1981.
During the regular season, Stepheson averaged 17.0 points on 49.3 percent shooting and 20.9 rebounds. But even with TNT import Joshua Smith limited to just 18 minutes of play, the 6-foot-10, 249 pound import only managed to put up nine points on 36.36 percent shooting while gobbling 16 rebounds.
And the 59-year-old mentor stressed that in order for them to survive this series, Stepheson needs to step up.
“Alex has to play better. They didn’t even start their import tonight, which doesn’t say much for their respect for my import.
“He needs to take it personal. The other team is gonna come out and say ‘we can guard you with our local players’ then I would take that to heart, I would take that personal and I would try to combat it,” the eight-time champion coach furthered.
Visibly frustrated with his import, Black, mincing his words, challenged Stepheson to get over the hump he is in.
“We’ll see how he handles it and how he reacts,” Black expressed.
“Anyway, we only have one more game left if he doesn’t play well.”