FIBA Asia Cup

Cold-blooded Belangel debuts for Gilas Pilipinas in style

Delfin Dioquino
Cold-blooded Belangel debuts for Gilas Pilipinas in style

ARRIVAL. Gilas Pilipinas guard SJ Belangel (center) introduces himself to Filipino fans with a game-winner against Korea.


'Coach Tab (Baldwin) knows this – I will never lose confidence in myself,' says Gilas game hero SJ Belangel

There’s no doubt SJ Belangel has one of the biggest Gilas Pilipinas debuts.

Belangel introduced himself to Filipino fans in style by nailing the buzzer-beating triple that lifted the Philippines to a dazzling 81-78 win over Korea in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on Wednesday, June 16.

The 5-foot-10 guard barely looked like someone making his first appearance for the seniors team as he churned out 13 points and 5 rebounds in the victory that secured the country its Asia Cup berth.

“Coach Tab (Baldwin) knows this – I will never lose confidence in myself,” Belangel said in Filipino.

“Whatever happens, it all boils down to making [the shot] and having confidence in myself,” he added.

Baldwin originally intended the final play for Carl Tamayo as the primary offensive option to score inside.

However, Korean naturalized player Ra Gun-ah (formerly Ricardo Ratliffe) switched to Tamayo and Angelo Kouame committed an execution error as Dwight Ramos instead dished the inbound pass to Belangel.

Fortunately for the Filipinos, Belangel came through. (READ: ‘Small ball still alive’ as Abarrientos, Belangel shine for Gilas Pilipinas)

Hounded by Lee Seoung-hyun, Belangel had to improvise as he used the backboard to sink the game-winner.

“I targeted the board because I did not have an angle for the shot. It was a difficult angle if I shot it straight. I saw the board, I aimed for the box, and the shot went in,” Belangel said.

The three-pointer capped a remarkable comeback for the Philippines, which seemed headed for a blowout loss after getting buried by as many as 17 points in the first half.

As the starting point guard and extension of the coach, Belangel said he reminded his teammates to trust the system Baldwin put in place.

The all-cadet crew responded by outscoring Korea, 45-34, in the second half.

“We knew what we had to do despite the situation and you can see in the system of coach Tab that we have nothing to be nervous of,” Belangel said.

“We play in the UAAP, where thousands of people watch. Now, there is no crowd so it was up to us to motivate each other.” –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.