“Representing the country is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
The last time Aaron Black represented the Philippines in an international competition was 2015, when he played for the U-18 team. Eight years later, he may have the chance to do so again.
Black has been selected as one of 28 players for the 2023 Gilas Pilipinas pool. And while he will still need to prove himself ahead of the final selection, having the chance to show the coaches what he’s made of is still meaningful for the 26-year-old athlete.
“Representing the country is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “It’s an honor and a blessing to be recognized as someone who could potentially represent the country. But there’s still a long way to go. I’m looking forward to learning from other guys on the pool, and showing what I can do.”
Black’s career path is different from many of his peers in that he flew under the radar during his college career. Despite winning two championships with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, he wasn’t given enough playing time to truly showcase his abilities. He entered the PBA with more doubters than hype.
But since then, he has not only made history as the lowest drafted player to win Rookie of the Year, but proven himself as a key player for the Bolts. In the last two weeks during the PBA Playoffs, he made crucial baskets to force overtime and eliminate Magnolia, and then logged a double-double and tied his career-high in Game 2 of the Semifinals versus TNT.
“It feels good to know that the hard work is paying off, but I also understand that there’s a long way to go. I’m only in my third year, there are a lot more things I want to do,” says Black.
When he reflects on his journey, gratitude is the first thing that comes to mind: “I’m blessed to be playing basketball for a living. Not everyone gets to do what they love for a living, so I just repeat that to myself: I’m blessed to be here.”
Black is looking forward to working with the Gilas pool, saying “I want to prove that I can bring the energy, as well as rebounding, as a bigger guard.” But for now, as the Meralco Bolts continue their playoffs journey, he’s focusing on another goal as well.
“The first thing is winning a championship, especially for a lot of guys who have been here longer than me,” he says. “I’m already hungry, but if I put myself in their shoes, I’m sure they’re a lot hungrier than I am. I want to win, not just for me, but for my teammates and for the whole organization.”