SJ Belangel is the hero the Ateneo Blue Eaglets deserve
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 11, 2018 06:43 PM
SJ Belangel single-handedly shot Ateneo over NU and straight onto the Finals
Ateneo de Manila High School can thank SJ Belangel for its clean sweep of the elimination round and automatic advance into the Finals of the 80th Season of the UAAP Juniors Basketball Tournament.
Why, you ask?
Well, let’s just say he dropped 31 points, 16 coming in the final frame, in the Blue Eaglets’ 78-68 victory versus heated foe Nazareth School of National University.
Well, let’s just say his 16 fourth q uarter points nearly matched the Bullpups’ output of 18 in the same timeframe.
Well, let’s just say it was his 12 points in the last three minutes that turned a three-point deficit into a 10-point win.
And well, let's just let these series of tweets do the talking:
Belangel wills that over Amsali and Malonzo! Ateneo within 59-61.— Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Pebrero 11, 2018
Belangel 2/2 from the line. Minerva midrange. 65-61 NU.— Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Pebrero 11, 2018
Belangel layup! Belangel steal! Belangel layup! He ties us at 65!— Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Pebrero 11, 2018
Then Belangel with the threee! Then a steal! Then a layup! Kid. Is. Taking. Over. He gives Ateneo a 70-68 lead, 2:02 to go.— Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Pebrero 11, 2018
Bullpup O has gone missing now. And SJ ices this one with a threee over Paul Manalang. Wow. What a closer. 76-68 Ateneo.— Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Pebrero 11, 2018
Of course, the kids from Katipunan also had much-needed contributions from Dave Ildefonso, Jason Credo, and Kai Sotto.
When it mattered most and when they were pushed to the brink, however, it was Belangel who saved the day for them.
The day – and the elims sweep and the outright championship round berth.
Modest as always, though, the graduating guard deflected all credit back to his teammates and coaches. “Siguro po, binigyan lang ako ng kumpyansa ng teammates and coaches ko. Great team effort po talaga ‘to,” he told reporters post-game.
He even said that it was nobody else but head coach Joe Silva and teammate Ildefonso who urged him to take over. “Sabi ni coach Joe na ‘Take over mo na.’ Sabi rin nila Dave yun, na ‘Ikaw na bahala,’” he shared.
He then continued, “Dun na rin ako na-motivate.”
Still, giving credit to where credit is due, head coach Joe Silva himself said that it was Belangel who did the heavy lifting for Ateneo. As he put it, “SJ carried us today.”
It also didn’t hurt that NU gave them some sort of motivation as well. “Siguro, na-motivate lang kami sa sinabi nila. Na-pump up lang kami na sinabi nilang magkaka-Final Four,” Belangel said, referring to Bullpup Rhayyan Amsali’s statement that there will be a Final Four and therefore, no elims sweep for anybody.
And so, after a so-so first half where he only had four points in eight minutes of action, the 18-year-old came back and came through for the Blue Eaglets in the endgame.
Indeed, proving to man of his word, he and his teammates defended home court.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.