MANILA, Philippines – Last year’s UAAP men’s basketball Finals MVP Mac Belo will not return to the FEU Tamaraws for his final year of playing eligibility and will focus instead on the upcoming Gilas Cadets program, his agent Edgar Mangahas told Rappler on Saturday, July 30.
Belo, who graduated high school in 2008, could have returned to FEU this season because of the UAAP’s decision to amend the rule that makes players have to complete their 5 years of playing eligibility within a 7-year window after graduating high school.
But the versatile 6-foot-3 forward is opting to move on and play for flag and country.
“Eligible pa siya for one year, pero, yun nga, before pinag iisipan niya yun, but I think kasi malipat na rin ang UAAP – sa September 3 yung opening – hindi na rin, kasi hindi naman siya sumasali sa practice,” his agent said.
(He’s eligible for one more year. He was thinking about returning before, but I think I don’t think he’s going to anymore because the UAAP is near and he hasn’t been practicing.)
In the last two seasons, Belo established himself as one of the premier players in Philippine college basketball. The Tamaraws’ go-to guy in the clutch, he averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 rebounds a game last season and led FEU to its first UAAP men’s basketball title in 10 years.
“Kumbaga yun yung pinaka-goal niya bago umalis,” Mangahas said about Belo helping the Tamaraws win the championship. “Syempre, malaking factor siya. Kumbaga, nagawa na rin niya yung part niya para sa school niya.”
(That was his ultimate goal. Of course, he was a big factor. In a way, he did his part for his school.)
The agent also said that FEU asked for Belo to return, but left the final decision up to him entirely.
According to Mangahas, meetings will be set with Gilas team manager Butch Antonio next week to finalize the plans for the Gilas Cadets program, which will be the focal point of Philippine basketball leading up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Another member of FEU’s title-winning roster last year, Russel Escoto, is also eligible to return because of the UAAP’s rule change. But a source told Rappler that it’s unlikely the big man will play for the Tamaraws and will also instead concentrate on the Gilas Cadets program. – Rappler.com