Hard to outcoach Norman Black, admits newcomer Vanguardia
Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia has proven his worth in the Asean Basketball League, but he faced a different monster in the PBA.
In the Fuel Masters’ opener in the PBA Governors’ Cup against Meralco, the ABL champion ran into the genius of 11-time PBA champion Norman Black.
“Coach Norman, you can’t really outcoach him, hindi mo ma a-outcoach ang Grand Slam coach,” said Vanguardia as the Fuel Masters bowed to Black’s Bolts 108-103 Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Black’s last title in the PBA was the 2013 Philippine Cup but it was his 1989 Grand Slam win with San Miguel that cemented his legacy as one of the greatest basketball minds in the Philippines.
Vanguardia’s Fuel Masters had a good run early in the fourth, even taking a 97-95 lead in the latter minutes, but the Bolts attacked relentlessly and Phoenix had no one to turn to in the end game.
The final two minutes became the Bolts’ time as they established a 105-100 lead at the 43-second mark after a 6-0 run Allen Durham capped with a putback of Mohammad Jamshidi’s miss.
Vanguardia mused the option of putting in Cyrus Baguio, the former Alaska Ace he pegged as his clutch performer, but the coach decided to keep his lineup as it is.
“Tinanong ko si Nic [Belasco], ‘Nic should I bring in Cyrus? He said ‘why not?’ but it goes against all principles that I taught,” said Vanguardia. “He could’ve helped us but I don’t want him to carry all the burden.”
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