Ateneo coach names SJ Belangel as his team captain next season

Ateneo coach names Belangel as his team captain next season
FUTURE IS NOW. Coach Joe Silva expects SJ Belangel to simply step into the shoes of team captain Jolo Mendoza.

The 78th Season of the UAAP Juniors Basketball Tournament isn’t even over with, but Ateneo de Manila High School already has their sight set on the next tournament.

When the Blue Eaglets were dethroned by their archrivals last Monday, it also signaled the end of Jolo Mendoza and Gian Mamuyac’s tenure with the team. The two were, without a doubt, key cogs in Katipunan’s contention in recent years.

That much was made clearer during the current season with team captain Mendoza and wingman Mamuyac at the helm of a squad with several first-time players – either rookies or call-ups from Team B. Characteristically soft-spoken, the two needed some time to step into their role.

In coach Joe Silva’s mind, Ateneo will not experience the same difficulty in Season 79. Although Mendoza, Mamuyac, and 11 others are already graduating, he is nothing but confident about the crop he will retain – especially his point guard of the present and the future in SJ Belangel.

As he shared, alluding to the fact that his point guard once scored 99 points back in his native province, “SJ, when I recruited him from Bacolod, the first thing I saw was his leadership more than the talent.”

He then continued, “That is why he was the team captain of Batang Gilas and for next year, he’ll definitely be the team captain of the Eaglets. If there’s one thing about him, it’s his leadership.”

Mendoza also thought highly of his heir apparent. “Si SJ, pinakita niya na walang beterano-beterano rito. Anyone can lead this team,” he said.

For his part, Belangel said he’s not willing to let those who trust him down. “Nili-lead ko na rin naman yung team. ‘Di naman talaga nawawala yung leadership sa pagiging point guard ko,” he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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