Alapag challenges Belangel to keep doing the work as Ateneo's new leader

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 28, 2020 03:33 PM
Alapag challenges Belangel to keep doing the work
(Photos by Arvin Lim)

For the first time in five years, Ateneo de Manila University's starting point guard would not be Matt Nieto.

"Matty Ice" had steadied the Blue Eagles ship for all of his collegiate career and had been a key cog in their three-peat.

Fortunately for the blue and white, they already have a ready-made replacement - SJ Belangel who had been an understudy for two years and was a true blue-chip recruit coming out of high school.

Along with the post of point guard, though, Belangel would also have to carry a bigger burden as one of Ateneo's leaders - now that all of Nieto and twin Mike, Isaac Go, and Thirdy Ravena are gone.

That's why in an online learning session with longtime Gilas Pilipinas captain Jimmy Alapag, the 20-year-old asked about, well, leadership. "How do you gather the troops during crucial moments," the latter inquired to the former.

And Alapag's answer was a challenge to the Blue Eagles' point guard of the present and the future. "A lot of that will have to come from setting the bar for Ateneo. It will be in those moments where your hard work, being early, staying late, building relationships with the guys will make them respond to you," he said.

He then continued, "You'll see them respond you because they know the work you put in."

Belangel, De La Salle University's Aljun Melecio, Mapua University's Laurenz Victoria, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' RK Ilagan got to converse with the now-San Miguel Alab Pilipinas head coach through a Zoom meeting initiated by GOAT Academy.

The fledgling program has organized several online learning sessions that aim to connect pros with collegiate stars and let the former enrich the minds of the latter.

Indeed, Alapag reminded Belangel, and the three other collegiate stars, that leading begins way before tip-off. "The only way to get yung confidence is when you're doing the work. Yung practice, 7:00 a.m., pero you're there 5:00 a.m. (and kahit) walang tao, walang ilaw sa gym," he said.

He then continued, "Kahit sa gabi, if practice ends at 7:00 p.m. and you're (still) there at 9:00 p.m. (kahit) walang tao, lights on in only half the gym. There's something building inside you guys when you do that so that when you set foot on the court, you're confident."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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