Meet Beau Belga's new partner in Rain or Shine's rejigged 'Extra Rice' frontline
ROS import Reggie Johnson on the Beermen: “You need to ask them, guys, ‘Can they match up with me?’ That’s the better question.”  Karlo Sacamos

THERE are only a few big men who can push or outweigh Beau Belga.

Good thing, one of them is on Rain or Shine’s side.

Belga has found his match in Reggie Johnson as the two burly big men form the new Extra Rice Inc. tandem that will anchor the Elasto Painters’ campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

“Tumatalsik si Beau…pag lumapit si Beau,” teammate James Yap said of the E-Painters import after practice on Tuesday. “Parang ang liit ni Beau pag nagtabi sila.”

While they bang bodies in practices, Johnson and Belga will team up in actual games, starting on Friday night in a game against Alaska.

“I’m excited to play with big Beau,” Johnson, who stands a shade below 6-10, said. “He’s physical. He understands the game. I can learn some things from him, so I’m excited.”

Together, they try to match up against Johnson’s counterparts and the league’s top local big men, led by reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer.

“I’m not even sure who these guys are right now, but I’m confident in myself,” Johnson said. “You need to ask them, guys, ‘Can they match up with me?’ That’s the better question.”  

“This team is missing like an inside presence to take them over the top, and I think that these guys have welcomed me, and we’re working hard to really be great, so be excited,” he added. “I don’t care who we play against. We’re going for the win.”

Johnson is a proven winner, having led the Westports Malaysia Dragons and Mono Vampire to championships in the Asean Basketball League (2016) and the Thailand Basketball Super League (2017), respectively.

“Alam niya kung bakit siya nandito,” Belga said. “Pressure is still there – lagi naman yun eh; sa lahat naman ng klase ng sport, may pressure eh, especially in basketball, but si Reggie, naglaro naman na siya overseas and nag-champion siya sa ABL, so he knows na malaki ang pupunan niya sa team na ‘to.”

And he’ll fill that hole literally and figuratively.

“Big Three kami dito, kasama si Norbert (Torres). Literal ng Big Three,” Belga said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos