MANILA, Philippines – Former FEU Tamaraws star Mac Belo is the latest warm body to join Gilas Pilipinas’ weekly practices in preparation for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament this July in Manila.
Belo, whom Gilas coach Tab Baldwin invited weeks ago, trained with the pool on Monday, February 29 at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside Ateneo de Manila University.
The athletic forward, who went to practice straight from a PBA D-League game, is no stranger to international competition and playing under Baldwin’s mentorship, having been part of the Sinag Pilipinas team that won gold medals for the 2015 SEABA Championship and the 2015 SEA Games.
“I’m here to help to the team and for me, I can improve here and learn a lot.”
Belo participating in this set #Gilas pic.twitter.com/p5Za69VsVg — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) February 29, 2016
Belo will be joined in the coming weeks by another FEU teammate Roger Pogoy, who was present at Monday’s training but did not practice as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
“Although I’m just a practice player I’m happy because I have a chance to train with Gilas,” said Pogoy, who was one of the heroes in the Tamaraws’ UAAP Season 78 title run.
“This will give me confidence because I’m gonna be training with PBA players. I never imagined having this kind of opportunity.”
Belo and Pogoy join fellow Gilas cadets Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Ferrer every Monday with the role of injecting more energy into practices.
Their presence will, according to Baldwin, “allow the intensity to level to be a little bit higher because they allow the players to not only participate but have the assurance that they can get a break when they need a break.”
“And these guys can step in and do the job. All players like to know that they can go hard, but at the same time they can get a break when they need one. And these guys give us that luxury,” he added.
Baldwin incorporated Belo into some of the drills and plays he was teaching and was confident in saying that both Belo and Pogoy are “the future” of the Gilas program.
“That’s what they’re here for. These are very talented young players, they’ve proven that at the UAAP level. They’re proving it at the D-League level,” he said. “They will, in the future, prove it at the PBA level and also internationally. I’m fully confident of that.”
Terrence Romeo was quick to give a warm welcome to his former FEU teammates. After practice they were seen talking and laughing.
“We were teammates for almost two years. Although our ages aren’t too far apart, I’m here for them to teach whatever I can. To guide them,” Romeo said in Filipino.
“I’m proud of them because we were together at FEU and we are growing together. I’m happy to see all of us improve and learn a lot here with Gilas.” – Rappler.com