THEY may not be assured of spots in the final lineup, but PBA veterans Beau Belga and Denok Miranda nevertheless pledged their full commitment to the Philippine men’s basketball team.
Stars at Rain or Shine and Petron, respectively, Belga and Miranda were mere stand-ins along with Meralco’s Jay-R Reyes on Monday night when they attended Gilas practice at the Meralco Gym in Pasig to fill the void left by the national team’s injured players.
Gilas is missing Kelly Williams, Jared Dillinger, Ryan Reyes, and Sonny Thoss. Even Ranidel de Ocampo and Larry Fonacier are nursing minor injuries. Both Talk ’N Text players joined the stretching exercises, but didn’t take part in drills and play simulations on Monday.
Miranda, who has been practicing with the national team since last week, understands his role and is content with it as long it’s for the country.
“Ininvite kami dito para ma-kumpleto yung lineup,” the Far Eastern University product said.
“Tumutulong kami para maki-scrimmage sa kanila. Okay lang yun. Para naman sa bayan eh. Hindi naman para sa sarili ko lang. walang problema yun.”
Belga, who joined practice for the first time on Monday, echoed Miranda’s sentiment as the 6-foot-5 slotman stood toe to toe with his taller counterparts in June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Marc Pingris, and import Marcus Douthit.
“Nakakapanibago, syempre kasi hindi naman ganito yung ensayo namin eh,” said the wide-bodied center, who has been with the Elasto Painters for three years. “Mas nakakapagod siya sa practice namin. Pero ganun talaga. Trabaho eh. Konting sakripisyo, tulong na rin sa kanila.”
Belga is relishing his national team experience even if he has little expectations he’ll make it to the final lineup.
“Hindi ako nag-e-expect na isama ako or whatever. Basta hiningi nila yung tulong ko at available naman ako so far,” said Belga.
“Masaya syempre. And luckily napasama ako (ngayon) kahit practice player lang. Big achievement na sa akin yun,” Belga added. “Bonus na lang (kung) mapasama ako sa roster.”
Belga had represented the country in the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, where he teamed up with current Gilas mainstays Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, and Jason Castro, but this year’s Asian tournament stakes slots to the Fiba Basketball World Cup and the Painters big man expressed his desire to be part of the squad.
“Everybody is hoping – kahit sino naman sa amin dito nila Denok, Jay-R – na mapasama. If there’s a chance, walang problema.”