RAIN or Shine’s Beau Belga emerged as the best player and top scorer for the PBA selection that swamped the visiting Shanghai Sharks, 80-71, at the close of the two-day Philippines-China Friendship Games Tuesday night.
And to him also belonged the game’s highlight-reel play.
Belga completely fooled Chinese Zhang Yuan with his patented shot fake in the most entertaining play of the contest, drawing laughs and cheers at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Painters big man pulled off his act with two minutes left in a tied 71-71 game. After the PBA selection snared the offensive board, Belga received the ball from the top of the key and faked a jumper against Zhang, just like he had done a thousand times in the PBA.
The play throws off PBA defenders every now and then but it completely fooled the Chinese player, who bit into Belga’s fake, turned around toward the basket, and waited for the rebound that never came as the sparse crowd burst into laughter.
Belga himself was surprised that the Sharks ace fell for his old basketball trick hook, line, and sinker.
“Nagulat din ako,” said Belga after the game.
“Wala talaga akong balak itira kasi naka-offensive rebound kami, parang nakakahiya naman. Kahit libre ako, hindi talaga ako titra. Nagulat ako na tumalikod siya. Hindi ko rin alam ang i-re-react ko. Tawanan na lang ang tao. Natawa na lang din ako.”
Belga’s teammate Chris Tiu described the shot as “one for the books.”
“I think that was the shot fake of the decade,” Tiu later tweeted.
Belga’s trademark shot fake is no longer new to PBA fans, a move which he said he developed when he was trained by Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao to improve on his outside shooting.
“Hindi ko naman pina-practice ‘yun. Na-develop ko na lang noong pinapatira ako sa labas ni coach Yeng,” said Belga, who even received smattering chants of 'MVP! MVP! MVP!' from the fans at the end of the entertaining game.
While the former Philippine Christian University stalwart isn’t a member of the Gilas Pilipinas team, he did show how determined he is to win the game for the Philippines even though it was only a Goodwill Series.
In one sequence, he even hacked towering Shanghai Sharks center Zhang Zhaoxu so hard that the Chinese big man later complained to the referees.
“Unang-una ang umiral lang sa amin ‘yung pride ng Pilipino. Kung kalaro nga namin, kapwa Pilipino, hindi kami nagpa-patalo ng basta basta, paano pa kaya kapag ibang bansa,” Belga said later.