MANY-time national player Ranidel de Ocampo knows the last-minute addition of Rain or Shine center Beau Belga brings a lot of upside to a Gilas Pilipinas training team that is banged up even before it could begin the final phase of its preparations for the Fiba-Asia Men's Championships.
De Ocampo, himself still recovering from a calf injury when he joined the national team in its two-week training camp in Lithuania, said Belga’s size and grit will be a boost to Gilas' frontline while his well-known physicality gives the team toughness inside the paint.
“Siyempre, kitang-kita natin si Beau na nakikipagpalitan ng mukha iyan. At kung may marunong man mag-hard foul, eh siya yun,” said the Talk 'N Text forward, who banged bodies with the wide-bodied Belga during the season-opening Philippine Cup Finals a few months ago.
Talk ‘N Text forward Kelly Williams and guard Jared Dillinger have been dropped from the Gilas roster due to injuries, while Ryan Reyes and Sonny Thoss skipped the Lithuania training camp due to hamstring and back issues, respectively.
And since seven-foot amateur standout Greg Slaughter is still a big question mark owing to his commitment with NLEX in the D-League, Gilas coach Chot Reyes said Belga was the best option among those available to beef up his shrinking training pool.
Reyes said he has also considered Petron’s Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and even Dennis Miranda along with Alaska’s energetic rookie Calvin Abueva, but since they were either unavailable or injured as well, he had to dig deeper for a replacement.
“Beau has always been in our radar. Maraming tao ang nagsasabi about him (Belga) from Day One, but people have to understand we can’t choose 30 or 40 guys,” Reyes said.
“We have to choose 15 guys, plus Marcus Douthit and Greg Slaughter kaya naging 17 yun. Now those original choices either got injured or had other issues, so we had to go down to our depth chart,” he added.
De Ocampo feels Belga is a good choice for Gilas.
“Sana makatulong din siya (Belga) sa team. Tiyaga-tiyaga lang din siya kasi alam nating willing siya maglaro. Maganda ring naka-experience din siya ng international kagaya nito. Iba na ito kasi, Fiba-Asia men’s na ito, patayan na kung patayan,” said the 6-5 forward.