MAC Belo refused to get overwhelmed by the big pro-Ginebra crowd in his first game against the Kings, putting up a solid performance in a 99-90 loss for Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night.
A day after Gin Kings coach Tim Cone labeled him as the early Rookie of the Year race frontrunner, the outstanding freshman registered 16 points on a 5-of-14 shooting and missed a double-double by just one rebound while adding two assists in 37 minutes of play.
“Sa totoo lang, wala ng kaba kasi nakalaro na namin sila nung preseason,” Belo said after the game. “Na-anticipate na namin yung crowd. Tinuturing na lang namin na normal game kahit nae-excite kami na makalaban sila.”
That excitement, however, led to over aggressiveness, Belo felt, as the Elite gave the Gin Kings 36 attempts from the charity stripe, compared to just 18 by Blackwater.
“Crowd favorite sila so na-excite kami maglaro, over aggressive so kaya napasama rin sa amin,” Belo said. “Marami aming binigay na free throws sa kanila.”
The Gin Kings’ trips to the foul line derailed the Elite’s momentum whenever they would make a run.
“Oo naman (naapektuhan) kasi napuputol ‘yung run namin,” Belo said. “May times na magra-run na kami, pagbalik namin, napa-foul kami then nagpi-free throw sila.”
Now, all the Elite can do is move on and set their sights on their last game of the eliminations against Star on Wednesday.
“Pagtatrabahuhan na lang namin,” Belo said as his team dropped to an even 5-5 win-loss record, still needing a win to qualify for the quarterfinals. “Focused kami sa last game and hopefully makapasok kami sa playoffs.”