More than his offense, Mac Belo prouder of block that set stage for Miranda winner
Blackwater rookie Mac Belo capped his impressive play against Meralco with a defensive gem on Reynel Hugnatan, rejecting the veteran forward’s putback attempt in the last 20 seconds to set the stage for Denok Miranda's game winner. Jerome Ascano

AS quick to show his offensive capabilities, Mac Belo didn’t take long to prove he can also be counted upon on the defensive end of the floor in the PBA.

Lost in the din of Denok Miranda’s go-ahead shot for Blackwater in their 86-84 win over Meralco on Sunday was Belo’s perfectly timed block on Reynel Hugnatan’s shot in the previous play that paved the way for the game-winning possession.

The prized Elite rookie flashed his offensive brilliance by scoring all but four of his 25 points in the second half, highlighted by two late three-pointers, the last one tying the game at 84.

But Belo capped his impressive play with a defensive gem on Hugnatan, rejecting the veteran forward’s putback attempt in the last 20 seconds of the see-saw encounter.

“Yun crucial,” Belo said of his block. “Nagkataon pa na ball possession namin. Na-execute pa namin 'yung play and naka score si Denok.”

[See Belo crowns impressive debut with Player of the Week citation]

The Gilas cadet star had two blocks in all and completed his defensive stats with six board and three steals in 36 minutes.

“Sinabi niya (coach Leo Isaac) na focus lang kami sa defense namin kasi medyo lousy kami nung first half,” Belo said. “So yun yung in-emphasize niya sa dugout. Kailangan namin mag-focus sa defense. Maganda rin ang takbo ng offense namin nung second half.”

Belo, who has averaged 21 points in his first two games, was named Player of the Game for the second straight game, becoming the first rookie to do so since Paul Lee in 2011.

“Continue to improve pa rin,” the 23-year-old freshman said. “Kailangan pa i-push yung sarili kasi kailangan pa magpa-kundisyon lalo. Maganda yung nilalaro ko so sa akin lahat ang scouting.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos