BEAU Belga has the unenviable task of guarding Reggie Johnson in practices, but he is glad that it’s their opponents who had to do the job against the Rain or Shine import in its PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Belga welcomed his team-up with Johnson to form the new Extra Rice Inc. that anchored the Elasto Painters in their 109-103 overtime win over Alaska in their conference debut on Friday night.
“Sobrang laking tulong,” Belga said. “Kasi kung makikita mo yung mga import na dinala ng ibang team talagang heavyweight eh -- yung Onuaku; yung kanina yung White sa Global. Talagang big man eh. Import kung import talaga.”
“I'm really hoping na magtuloy-tuloy yung nilalaro niya,” he added. “Ako sa practice, talagang tina-try ko subukan yung mga import na dumarating sa'min eh. And siya talagang laging go hard. And ngayon lang ako naka-experience ng import na talagang sobrang bigat -- kahit ako di ko kaya eh. So talagang sabi ko may ibubuga.”
Apart from throwing his weight around, the hefty Johnson also flaunted his outside shooting by knocking down half of his four triples and finished with 32 points, 22 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block in 43 minutes.
“We're happy with how he played,” ROS coach Caloy Garcia said. “He can make three point shots, he can play the post. He can do everything actually.”
Asked if he feels Johnson still has to trim down, Belga doesn’t mind as long as he can carry himself.
“Ako, sa tingin ko di na (kailangan mag-bawas), kasi kung dun siya komportable,” Belga said. “Siguro more on iimprove niya lang yung conditioning, kailangan lang siguro ng hangin pa.”
“Kasi pagka umabot na ng playoffs, sunud-sunod na yung laro eh,” he added. “Konti na lang yung pahinga eh. So baka pagdating ng dulo kapusin, 'di ba. So siguro conditioning lang, yun lang kulang sa kanya.”
While he felt Johnson could still improve his conditioning, Belga found his second wind and his touch in the endgame after misfiring early on against the Aces, scoring six of his nine points in the extra session.
“Ako nung una nafa-frustrate na rin eh, kasi di maka-shoot eh,” the ROS stretch big man said. “Yung alam mo yung mga tira na sa practice pasok? Dun ako nafa-frustrate. Sabi ko, kung ida-down ko pa sarili ko, lalong di ako makaka-score.”
“Eh nagkataon na meron akong free shot sa ibabaw, tinira ko na lang,” he added. “Sabi ko kapag na-shoot 'to, eh di okay. Yun nga. Kasi ang sa experience ko naman, pag ako nakashoot, sigurado ako may kasunod pa eh. Yun nga, nakashoot ako ng isa, naka-lay-up ako, nakaano pa ko ng isa pang three points.”