Thinking out of box

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
Thinking out of box
Norman Black
STAR / File

In this sequel to last Sunday’s column, coach Norman Black reveals that SBP’s ultimate goal in its nationwide grassroots program is to develop players who could graduate to become competitive pros and national players.

“We’re rethinking how we train our kids,” said Black who’s in charge of executing the action plan. “In the past, if you’re 11 or 12 and you’re big for your age, maybe grow to six or 6-1 or 6-2 in a few years, you’re taught center skills. If you play zone, you won’t develop skills that you would playing one-on-one. We want kids to learn wing skills so that when they grow older, they’ll be able to adapt because internationally, if you grow to be 6-4 or 6-5, you won’t be competitive as a center. You’re a lot more flexible if you grow up learning wing skills.”

It’s rare that a Kai Sotto, Japeth Aguilar or June Mar Fajardo comes along. When players of their size emerge, it’s a blessing. And if they learn how to play wings skills when younger, their capabilities are enhanced exponentially as they reach for the sky. That’s what’s on Black’s mind in skewing SBP’s grassroots program to reformat the training program for kids.

Early this year, Black spent a week in Australia observing the Australian Institute of Sports’ youth training program. Aside from Canberra, Black went to Albury and Sydney to check out Australia’s U16 national team tryouts. He went with Dy and FIBA Oceania executive director David Crocker. Then, Black flew to Serbia where he attended the youth training camps of the country’s top four basketball clubs Partizan, Mega, Red Star and Dynamic. Black caught a glimpse of coach Rajko Toroman’s grandson Djordje Sakuralac, a 6-7 U16 star, in training and witnessed a Euroleague game between Partizan and Efes Pilsen of Turkey.

“I filmed everything I could from the training camps and youth tryouts in Australia and Serbia,” said Black. “It was quite an experience. In Serbia, coach Nenad Vucinic’s friend Miki Markovic brought me around. I’ll try to replicate the best practices in the provinces. Three weeks ago, I was in Cebu with coach Pat Aquino and we did workouts with 60 girls and boys in the U16 level. We also did clinics for U12 kids and coaches. Next week, we’ll be in Cagayan de Oro.”

Black and his visiting team stay 2 1/2 days in every location. He’ll rotate the coaches in the workouts, sometimes with Aquino, sometimes with Jong Uichico who heads SBP’s coaching program. Black’s organizing group consists of Bacon Austria, Beaujing Acot and Eric Reyes. Black couldn’t be busier in his new mission and he’s enjoying every minute of giving back to the game that will always be close to his heart.

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