TO this day, no one in Philippine basketball has ever come close to the record accomplished by Felix ‘Donbel’ Belano.
In the 1999 season of the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), Belano tallied 17 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and 10 steals in the Davao Eagles' away victory over the Nueva Ecija Patriots at the Araullo Gym in Cabanatuan City for the only recorded quadruple double in Philippine basketball.
To show how difficult the feat was, only four players have done it in NBA history – Nate Thurmond of the Golden State Warriors, Albert Robertson of the San Antonio Spurs, Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets, and David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs.
The University of Visayas product pieced together the details of that historic August 14 game in an interview with SPIN.ph on Thursday, The first thing he remembered was how comfortable he felt during that game.
“Early pa lang, nakukuha ko na ‘yung rhythm ko na gusto ko. Siguro naka-seven steals na agad ako, first half pa lang. Magaan (ang pakiramdam) ko. Parang kiti kiti nga sabi nila,” said Belano.
Making the feat more impressive was that Belano already accomplished a double-double by tallying his 10th steal very early. Belano was known as a crafty defender, but he himself admitted that getting 10 steals in the game is very difficult.
He made it look easy.
“Actually, mas madali makuha ‘yung assist at rebound pero ‘yung blocks at steals, ‘yun ang pinakamahirap," he said. "Siguro parang mayroon akong gift na anticipation sa game eh as a guard. Marunong akong bumasa kung kailan ako he-help para ma-steal."
“Nabigla din ako kasi ‘yung steals ang mahirap gawin. Kahit anong gawin mo, mahihirapan ka talaga sa steals pero thank God, binigyan ako ng strength.”
According to Belano, Davao coach Francis Rodriguez was already planning to sit Belano on the bench until he was egged on by the television crew as well as league personnel to put his guard back in the game, saying he was closing in on a triple-double.
There was no mention of going for a quadruple-double at all, according to Belano.
“Mga seven minutes na nun, lalabas na sana ako ni coach Francis Rodriguez. Pero sabi ng mga crew, ‘Coach, wag mo ilabas para makakuha ng triple double.’ Nag-timeout si coach, naka-10 steals na ako, dalawang assists na lang at isang rebound na lang. Sabi ni coach, tulungan na lang natin para makuha ‘yung record pero go for the win pa rin.”
Belano and his t eammates ended up celebrating an achievement that was only seen in the MBA.
“Lumagpas tuloy. Nakakuha ako ng 11 rebounds at 11 assists,” Belano said with a smile.
Belano said he couldn't have done it without the help of Davao Eagles teammates and coaches.
“Thankful talaga ako sa mga teammates ko at sa coaches namin dahil marami ang nagtulungan sa team dahil gusto nila may maka-record ng triple double,” said Belano. “It was about helping each other to win."
That same year, the Davao Eagles guard won the Rookie of the Year award and changed his jersey number from 9 to 42 to commemorate the quadruple double feat.
Belano later moved to the PBA where he played for Sta. Lucia in 2001 and won a championship. He was then traded to Talk ‘N Text where he played for seven years and won a championship in the All-Filipino Cup in 2003. He retired in 2010 and became the head coach of UV from 2011 to 2014.
Belano, 43, is now the coach of Cebu International School and also runs a basketball training camp in the city. He is surprised that after 21 years, no one has duplicated his achievement.
He hopes that someday, someone does.
“Hindi nga ako makapaniwala. Binibiro ko nga mga anak ko kasi naglalaro sila,” said Belano, whose two sons play in Cebu. “Sana ma-break niyo ‘yung record ko. It takes time pa siguro. Who knows. Baka sana ‘yung mga anak ko.”