UAAP: In SJ Belangel, the next man up just keeps coming for Ateneo

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 27, 2018 05:57 PM
In SJ Belangel, the next man up just keeps coming for Ateneo
SJ Belangel is yet another proof of Ateneo's enviable depth

SJ Belangel was a one-time champion and two-time Mythical selection when he played for Ateneo de Manila High School in the UAAP Juniors.

After a stellar stint in the high school ranks, Belangel only decided to stay and committed to the Ateneo Seniors squad.

This, even though Gilas cadet Matt Nieto and one-time Xavier School standout Tyler Tio were well entrenched ahead of him in the depth chart.

For the 6-foot court general, it was all about believing that patience is a virtue. “You just have to be ready palagi, yun lang iniisip ko. Kahit ilang minutes ibigay sa akin, everybody just needs to step up,” he said.

After nine games, his per game counts have been far from what he has been used to at just 2.4 points in nine minutes of play.

With Nieto sitting out his fourth game in a row on Sunday, however, Belangel found an opening to break through. “Kung ano lang matutulong ko sa team, yun lang ipo-produce ko. Kuya Ty needs a backup so ginrab ko lang yung opportunity,” he said.

He did just that, turning in much-welcome contributions of a career-high 11 points to go along with three assists, and two rebounds.

More than doing it for himself, though, the 19-year-old made it clear that all he did was for his veterans. “Wala si Kuya Matt so kailangan ko talagang mag-double time. Si Kuya Ty, kailangan na ‘di siya napapagod so palagi lang talaga akong ready,” he said.

He then continued, “Luckily, I had a chance to get a career-high.”

In the end, just as he did it for Nieto and Tio, Belangel’s breakthrough was also helped by those two. Asked what his veterans have been teaching him, he answered, “Be who you are lang. Palagi nilang sinasabi sa akin na laruin mo lang laro mo.”

Now, whenever Nieto gets back to action, he will have a Tio who has broken through as well as a Belangel who has broken through backstopping him.

Talk about an embarrassment of riches for the defending champions.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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