IT didn’t come as a surprise for Ed Daquioag that he was given the task to take on Mac Belo right in his first PBA game with the Meralco Bolts.
The rookie guard has been all too familiar, after all, with the Blackwater freshman, both as a Gilas cadet teammate and as a rival in the UAAP.
“Sinabihan na nila ako na ready ako dahil si Mac nga ang ipapabantay sa akin,” said Daquioag following Meralco’s 86-84 loss to Blackwater in the curtain raiser of the Philippine Cup Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Daquioag’s knowledge on the former King Tamaraw of Far Eastern University obviously went down the drain as Belo exploded for 21 points in the second half – including 12 in the payoff period – and helped the Elite register their first ever 2-0 start in its young franchise history.
Belo wound up with 25 points, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks, and no turnovers in 36 minutes of play to earn a second straight Best Player of the Game award. Paul Lee was the last rookie to be named Best Player of the Game twice in a row in 2011.
Ribbed about his defense on Belo, Daquioag broke into a sheepish smile.
“Si Mac naman kasi yun,” he said of his Gilas teammate, whose FEU team beat Daquioag and the Santo Tomas Tigers for the UAAP men’s basketball title last year.
“At tsaka hindi naman ako totally ang kumuha sa kanya. Ilang minutes lang naman ang nilaro ko,” he added.
The 25-year-old Daquioag, a native of Dingras, Ilocos Norte, finished with six points, two assists, and a rebound in 17 minutes of play in his pro debut.
The 6-foot-1 guard said he has not fully practiced with the Bolts for most of the off-season, and describes himself as still a ‘work in progress’ for the team.