SMART CLARK GIGA CITY — Norman Black brought much glory to San Miguel in the past, highlighted by a rare Grand Slam in 1989 that made them just the second PBA team to achieve such a feat.
Thirty-one years later, though, the very same person who helped the Beermen eventually become the league’s most successful franchise would also cause them so much pain.
Black coached Meralco to a dominant 90-68 victory in their do-or-die quarterfinal tiff Sunday night. The Bolts put an end to the unprecedented five-year reign of San Miguel as king of the Philippine Cup.
The decorated mentor wasn’t thinking of the past, though.
“Well, to be quite honest with you, I’m so focused on Meralco and the company, and trying to reward them for their patience and sticking with us and supporting us. I’m not really thinking about San Miguel that much,” he said.
“I think all of you guys know that I probably had the best part of my career in San Miguel as a player and as a coach. But at the same time, I moved on a long time ago.”
It is the present that matters for Black. He has just steered the 10-year-old franchise to its first-ever semifinal appearance in the all-Filipino conference, making this season even more special for them.
The Bolts clinched the fifth seed at the end of the eliminations, entering the quarters for the first time in five years. And they dethroned a champion Beermen side despite their twice-to-win disadvantage.
“Obviously, beating them is great. It feels great, not because they’re San Miguel but because we have a chance to move on to the semifinals,” said Black, who won nine of the 27 championships of San Miguel.
“Breaking their five-year championship streak, well that says they’re also great because they’ve won five straight championships. We’re just happy to be here, and it just happened to be the San Miguel team that we had to go through.”
The 11-time champion coach, however, refuses to get too caught up with the resounding victory. Instead, he points out that there’s still plenty of work to do since they face Ginebra in the best-of-five semis that starts Wednesday.
“I’m so happy for them. They’ve worked so hard. Now I’m going to have to regroup them because the job is not finished. It’s only the semifinals,” Black said.
“The battle is only half won.”