Beau Belga relishes villain role as Ginebra fans taunt
MANILA, Philippines - Rain or Shine big man Beau Belga had a huge target on his back Sunday, March 15 as he had the entire Barangay Ginebra San Miguel gallery at the Cuneta Astrodome jeering at him and, at one point, even hurling a water bottle towards him.
But as the rowdy crowd - one that was almost reminiscent of the boisterous and heavily invested crowds from the league's early days - booed each time he touched the ball and mockingly laughed at him with every error he committed, Belga said all of it only fueled the fire inside him.
"Tuwang tuwa ako sa ganyan. Yun ang gusto ko sa lahat. Sa lahat ng laro ang pinakagusto ko yung kalaban ko yung buong arena," said the 28-year old after Rain or Shine stole the victory, 82-79.
"Yung tipong ako lang mag-isa. Yun ang gusto ko. Mas challenging. Kumbaga after ng game mas maraming iiyak, mas marami akong paiiyakin. Yun ang gusto ko. And then siyempre at the same time pag natalo kayo tanggapin mo."
(I really like that. That's what I want most of all. Of all the games what I like most is when I'm fighting against the entire arena. Especially when it's just me. That's what I want. It's more challenging. It's like after the game more people are gonna cry, and I'm gonna make even more people cry. That's what I like. And then of course at the same time if we lose then we should accept it.)
Belga earned the ire of the crowd Sunday night with his physical play, which led to a pseudo wrestling match between him and Mark Caguioa on the floor in the fourth quarter. It also saw his knee hit the head of a 5-foot-6 Emman Monfort, who fell to the floor as he absorbed Belga's weight after vying for the ball.
The 6-foot-5 Belga, who was whistled for 3 fouls in the payoff period alone, was also part of a couple of heated verbal exchanges.
One was with Ginebra import Mike Dunigan, while the other was with a fan who flung a water bottle at him from the stands.
A shocked Belga responded with an inappropriate hand gesture that was caught on live television.
Rain or Shine players and team officials quickly pointed out the culprit as PBA officials escorted a number of fans out of the venue. Some of whom appeared to appeal their case but walked out anyway proudly brandishing their Ginebra t-shirts.
"Okay lang," Belga answered when asked if he had any qualms playing the villain.
"As long as nananalo yung team ko, wala kaming problema. Kahit na kalaban ko yung buong mundo okay lang. Tatanggapin ko."
(It's okay with me. As long as my team is winning, we have no problem. Even if I'm against the entire world it's okay. I'll accept it.)
Belga, indeed, relished being the object of everyone's anger as he egged the crowd on each time he scored, raising his hands as if asking for more jeers, and even sticking his tongue out.
"(I'm) inspired of my emotions," he said. "Naririnig ko yung buong arena parang ang sarap gantihan e. Tapos mag-isa ka lang lahat sila kalaban mo."
(I hear the entire arena and I feel like I want to get back at them. Especially when you're alone and you're against everybody else.)
He and Rain or Shine earned sweet vindication after they held Ginebra scoreless for the last 4 minutes and 21 seconds and went on an 11-0 run to end the game. That surge turned a 79-71 deficit into the 82-79 final tally.
The win assured the Painters of a playoff berth as they rose to 6-3.
"Ako kahit ano mangyari (Whatever happens) I just want to play," said Belga, who finished with 11 points and 3 rebounds.
"I just want to play beyond my emotions and kung ano maitutulong ko yun lang gagawin ko. So far hindi ko pinaiiral yung galit ko, so ako laro lang talaga. Puso."
(I just want to play beyond my emotions and whatever I can to help that's what I'll do. So far I don't let my anger get the best of me, so I just play. All heart.)
Belga may take on an entire arena against him during a game, but he admitted social media is an entirely different beast that he'd like to steer clear from in the next couple of days.
After all, anonymity is a high-caliber weapon that's difficult to match.
"Sabi ko nga sa sarili ko (I told myself) I'm not gonna open my Facebook and Twitter account for now, for 2 days."
"Sigurado masarap makikita at mababasa ko sa Facebook and Twitter (For sure I'll see good stuff on Facebook and Twitter)," he added with a smirk. — Rappler.com