MAC Belo continued what has become a fluctuating performance early in his rookie season in the PBA as he struggled against Alaska in their Commissioner’s Cup matchup on Wednesday night.
After putting up a solid conference debut with 21 points, eight boards, five assists, and one block in a double-overtime loss to Phoenix last Saturday, the Rookie of the Year candidate registered just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, seven boards, three assists, and two steals, against four turnovers in 31 minutes.
“Medyo nandoon yung hirap tapos yung pressure,” Belo admitted after the game. “May natitira rin akong mga open shot kaso 'di ko lang naco-convert.”
Belo started to submit an up-and-down showing in the latter part of the Philippine Cup after living up to expectations early in the all-Filipino tournament.
On Wednesday night, the Gilas Pilipinas pool member credited the Aces’ suffocating defense particularly in the second half where he was held scoreless.
“Marami kaming turnovers then marami rin kaming binigay na turnover points sa Alaska [kasi] nahirapan kami sa press na binigay nila sa amin,” Belo said after the Elite committed 22 errors that the Aces translated into 23 points.
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Belo, though, said he still is recovering from a recurring minor knee injury that has hampered him since last conference.
“Still, ano pa kasi, nagpapakundisyon pa kami ng PT ko,” the 24-year-old cager admitted. “Kasi ‘di ganun kadali eh, kaya kailangan laging kundisyon. Pero kaya naman, namamanage ko naman.”
Belo’s struggles were compounded by import Greg Smith’s fouling out early in the fourth period, hastening the Elite’s downfall.
“Fouled out si Greg, pero fit siya sa sistema namin,” Belo insisted. “Legit NBA player tapos matalino pa maglaro.”