MAC Belo is out to prove the so-called sophomore jinx is not true in his case.
Belo had a sterling performance for the second straight game as he steered the Blackwater Elite to their first win in the PBA Philippine Cup with a 92-87 beating of Rain or Shine at the Astrodome on Friday night.
The second year forward had nine of his game-high 25 points in the payoff period. The scoring fray included a clutch three-pointer inside the final two minutes that gave the Elite a 90-85 lead - and enough cushion to survive a last-ditch stand by the Elasto Painters.
Belo was 5-of-10 from three-point range and 10-of-19 from the field, while adding seven rebounds to doubled his effort in a 103-97 loss to Meralco last week in which he finished with 13 points and a single rebound.
The consistent showing, according to Belo, was his way of making up for lost time as the former Far Eastern University star missed three-fourths of his rookie year after going down with a knee injury.
“Nagfo-focus lang ako sa mga pinagagawa sa akin ni coach. Yung mga nakaraan, past na yun. Ang importante yung present,” he said. “Lagi naman akong pinu-push ng coaching staff at mga teammates ko. Good thing malaki na yung nako-contribute ko.”
Belo was tagged as Blackwater’s next franchise player when he was selected first by the team during last year’s special rookie draft involving cadet players in the Gilas Pilipinas pool.
He did well during last year’s all-Filipino Cup until the knee injury which also sidelined him in college, recurred and kept him out of action by mid-season.
Belo returned for the Governors Cup, but obviously wasn’t still in top shape.
Coach Leo Isaac said the Elite are not in a hurry to push Belo’s return, adding the team would rather have him back slowly but surely.
“We have to be patient with him,” said the Blackwater mentor.
Belo said he now feels a lot better than he was by season’s end last year.
“Oo, okay na. May konting tightness minsan, pero okay naman,” he said. “Normal lang naman sa mga player yung ganun.”