UAAP: SJ Belangel makes his Ateneo 'kuyas' respect his game

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 02, 2018 04:29 PM
UAAP: SJ Belangel makes his Ateneo 'kuyas' respect his game
SJ Belangel is a rookie who has all the talent in the world to become Ateneo's next great point guard

For all the headlines that have been grabbed by University of Sto. Tomas’ CJ Cansino and National University’s Dave Ildefonso, Ateneo de Manila University actually has its own super rookie just waiting to be unleashed.

Blue Eagle rookie SJ Belangel was actually the top rated senior coming out of high school by the National Basketball Training Center – not Cansino, not Ildefonso.

Unlike those two, however, Belangel has the luxury of, for now, being taken under the wings of the likes of Matt Nieto and Tyler Tio.

That time, Ateneo believes, is much-needed for a kid who has all the talent in the world, but who needs to work on one thing in particular. “Si SJ kasi, calls everybody ‘kuya.’ It’s not na we don’t want them to respect each other, but ang hirap, especially for SJ, if he’s gonna be the point guard, and he’s gonna command his teammates to be in certain positions and do this thing or that thing,” assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga shared.

He then continued, “We want him to get rid of that reverence na ‘kuya’ kita.”

Indeed, the 19-year-old is as respectful as they come. In fact, each and every time reporters have interviewed him, it is already expected to hear several sirs or maams throughout the recording.

Coach Sandy made it clear, however, that this is all about Belangel asserting himself – even though he is only playing an average of 9.5 minutes per game. “It’s not that we don’t want them to be respectful. It’s just that we want SJ, especially as a point guard, to lead regardless if he’s a rookie or not,” he said.

For his part, the Bacolod native said that while his coaches want him to work on calling everybody “kuya,” it is actually him who is being called “kuya” by his teammates. “Actually, niloloko nila ako na sa mukha ko, parang ako pa yung kuya kesa kanila. Sabi nila, ‘Tignan mo naman mukha mo, compare mo kay kuya Ty,’” he said through chuckles, alluding to Tio’s boyish face.

Turning serious, though, Belangel said that he fully understands what his coaches want from him. “Last summer pa, pinapatanggal nila yung pagtawag ng ‘kuya,’ pero ‘di po talaga e. Magalang po talaga ako,” he said.

He then continued, “So sabi na lang nila nap ag nasa court na, wag nang magalang kasi pagdating dun, pantay-pantay na e. Outside, pwede pong ‘kuya’ na ulit.”

While the word looks like it would not be deleted from Belangel’s vocabulary anytime soon, coach Sandy and the rest of the Blue Eagles’ coaching staff are just glad to see him becoming more and more assertive. “SJ still calls others ‘kuya’ kasi nga, ever since, he’s respectful. Actually, more than just calling another ‘kuya,’ what we want him to be is more of a leader,” he said.

He then continued, “Now, kahit tinatawag niyang kuya, he asserts himself. But of course, kulang pa. He’s a young guy and he’s got a lot to learn.”


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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