Mac Belo put a new twist to the famous slogan ‘Basketball Never Stops.’
Although he’s hardly recharged, the former Far Eastern U star forward attended his first official training session with Gilas Pilipinas on Monday night at the Moro Lorenzo Gym in Katipunan, Quezon City, a development that left national team coach Tab Baldwin beaming no end.
After helping Phoenix Petroleum defeat Tanduay 85-80 in their PBA D-League Aspirants Cup showdown at the Filoil-Flying V Arena in San Juan in the afternoon, Belo immediately trooped to the Ateneo-based gymnasium to join fellow Gilas cadets Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer and injured RR Pogoy in the weekly session with Gilas mainstays.
“Basta basketball, ‘pag mahal mo talaga ang sport mo, kahit pagod, ok lang,” said Belo, who was visibly pleased with his initial training with who he considers “the basketball players in the land.”
“Masaya then blessed na rin. Talagang malaking tulong rin para sa akin kaso gusto ko rin madagdagan ang kaalaman ko sa basketball at makasama yung magagaling na basketball players dito sa ‘Pinas.”
Also participating in the two-hour training session were TNT stars Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, rookies Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario; June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel Beer; GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo; Calvin Abueva of Alaska; Star’s Marc Pingris; Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, and Barangay Ginebra’s towering duo of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar.
Injured players LA Tenorio of Ginebra and Rain or Shine’s tandem of Paul Lee and Jeff Chan, also attended the session watching from the sidelines.
“I’m happy with the turnout and happy with we got through and we have accomplished,” said Baldwin. “They still need a little bit of pushing. (We’re) months away and the attitude that goes with that is still present. But we are making strides.”
“It could be better and it’s better than it was before. We’re certainly on the upward curve. The players have good understanding of what we want to do and they will respond. So its good to have these young fellas here,” added the Kiwi-American coach.
Asked what he sees from Belo and the other Gilas cadets, Baldwin quickly answered: “The future. That’s what they’re here for. These are very talented players and they have proven that in the UAAP level. They’re proving it at the D-league level and they’ll prove it in the future at the PBA level and also on the international (scene). I’m fully confident of that.”
Aside from providing Baldwin another warm body with the continued absence of Star forward Ian Sangalang and other members of the pool like TNT wingman Matthew Ganuelas who has been attending to a personal matter, Belo is convinced he can learn a thing or two with his Gilas stint.
“Andito ako para tumulong. Pero para rin sa akin, para mag-improve at marami akong matutunan. Marami pa rin akong pagkukulang sa basketball. Basta ako trabaho lang. ‘Pag sinabi ni coach Tab na go hard, go hard talaga,” said Belo. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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