ROOKIE jitters and lack of sleep usually don’t go well together.
But not for Mac Belo.
The top rookie pick this season relied on his tip-top condition as he delivered a solid showing in his debut for Blackwater on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Belo tallied 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and finished a rebound shy of a double-double as he led the Elite to a 94-87 win over Phoenix.
“Actually, kinakabahan talaga,” Belo admitted. “Buti na lang maaga din ako nagising kanina kaya medyo sarap pala maglaro kapag puyat.”
Still, the ever-humble Gilas cadet didn’t expect to play as well as he did in his first game as a pro.
“Actually hindi (ko in-expect),” the former Far Eastern University star said. “Maganda lang siguro yung teamwork namin kanina so nagkataon lang na na-open ako.”
Fuel Masters star forward JC Intal did introduce himself to Belo with a block in the second quarter.
“Kanina, yun ba yung na-block ako? Welcome to the PBA,” said Belo, who responded by scoring 12 of his output in the second half.
Belo, who added two assists and committed only one turnover, capped his performance with a right-corner jumper that gave the Elite enough buffer to weather a late stand by the Fuel Masters.
“Makikita mo naman na may potential yung bata at full of promise, but you have to guide him,” Elite coach Leo Isaac said. “Mayroon rin siyang mga maliit na pagkakamali and that’s where the coaches would step in to guide him para yung tools niya would be properly sharpened.”
“And he will turn out to be the player that he’s projected to be,” he added.
Belo is confident he can cope with the pressure that comes with high expectations.
“Meron (pressure) pero basta tuluy-tuloy lang ang improvement,” he said. “Tinutulungan naman ako ng mga coaches and veterans namin sa mga adjustments especially sa mga tawagan.”