If there’s anybody who knows Chris Tiu well, it has to be Norman Black.
Black served as a mentor to Tiu when they were still together in the Ateneo Blue Eagles program. That relationship bore two UAAP Mythical Five citations for Tiu, and a Season 71 title – the first of the historic five-peat.
That relationship spilled all the way to the international arena.
When Black was tasked to mentor Sinag Pilipinas in the 2011 SEA Games, he brought in Tiu and made him the team captain. That resulted in a gold medal.
Black also saw the side of Tiu as a student. The heady floor general finished both BS Management Engineering and BS/M Applied Mathematics with Specialization in Mathematical Finance 0 two of the toughest courses in the Ateneo – with Latin honors.
Moreover, Tiu – who flew to Lille, France during his third year for a Junior Term Abroad – had a business IDN in Ateneo as he put up Chinky Chicken in the School of Management Mall, a testament that he already wore so many hats in college.
Tiu is now 33 years old, and he’s at the peak of his career and playing solidly for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. But unfortunately, talk of him retiring this early – he’s just in his sixth year in the PBA – has been circulating.
“I always tell Chris that he’s too good to be retiring,” said Black.
Though he has yet to confirm his exit, the 5-foot-10 Tiu has cited reasons such as commitment to his projects outside of basketball and to his family for why he is now contemplating hanging up his basketball sneakers for good.
Black then recalled one of their conversations some time ago that Tiu – the Elasto Painters’ seventh overall pick in 2012 – had said he would only play for around two to three years in the professional stage, although he has played much longer than that.
“I didn’t really think he would last this long … because I know when he graduated from Ateneo and decided that he’s gonna play for the national team and play professional ball, he said he’s only giving himself two to three years.
“So he actually overstayed,” quipped Black with a grin.
Tiu played what was possibly his final game on Saturday evening, and he made one lasting impression. He had a career-high 30 points in over 32 minutes to lead the Elasto Painters to a 107-101 victory over the NLEX Road Warriors.
“He had a career-high tonight, did he?” Black beamed.
“Just like Kobe Bryant, going out on a high note.”
But if Saturday really is Tiu’s last game, Black said that his student will be leaving the game with a solid career – one decorated with championships and medals, from the UAAP, PBA, and international stints with Gilas Pilipinas.
“He knows what’s best for him,” he said. “But he has a lot of other options, can’t really be mad at a guy for wanting to move on to the business world.
“But he had a good career and I think he’s at the peak of his performance right now.”
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