HE has shuffled in and out of the active list for much of his pro career, but that has in no way dampened Jaypee Belencion's PBA dream. That, in fact, has only strengthened his resolve to be the best player he can be.
For the hardworking GlobalPort back-up forward, simply being in the PBA means he has one foot in the door in his bid to land a permanent post in a pro ballclub some day.
On Friday night, he took another step closer to that dream.
Just days after coming off a two-game stint in the team's reserve list, the GlobalPort forward scored 21 points to go with three rebounds and one steal in a 98-87 loss to the Petron Blaze Boosters.
Talk about instant offense.
“Ni-ro-rotate kasi kami ng coaching staff. Para nga naman hindi masyadong mabakante yung mga nasa reserve,” said Belencion, who gave way to rookie LA Revilla’s entry into the team’s active list last month.
“Pero okay lang sa akin 'yun. Basta ako ready in case na tawagin ko. Go hard pa rin ako sa practice kahit hindi nagagamit,” said the soft-spoken 6-foot-2 guard from Jaro, Iloilo.
The 27-year-old bared that a hard childhood has shaped him to be the man he is today - a resolute fighter who will not let anything get in the way of his dream.
Belencion said his mother, Perla, showed him the value of beating the odds in the face of adversity.
“Apat kaming magkakapatid. Si Mama lang mag-isa bumalikat sa amin. Kasi three years old pa lang ako, naghiwalay na sila ni Papa,” he said of his mother who is a tailor in Barangay Bitton back in Jaro.
“Kaya ayun siguro, nasanay tayo sa hirap. Kaya kahit ano sitwasyon dumating sa buhay ko, hindi ako natutong magreklamo o kaya sisihin ang kalagayan ko,” said Belencion.
Belencion’s wife, Nikki, is a witness of how hard her husband works.
“Talagang masipag yan si Jaypee. Sobrang aga nga niya magpunta sa Moro Lorenzo - 9 a.m. ang call time nila, 7 a.m. pa lang gusto niya andun na,” Mrs. Belencion said of her Jaypee, who normally spends his free time cooking for her and daughter Dominique.
“Gusto raw niya makapagpahinga ng maayos sa gym, tapos makapagshooting na rin. Para daw makapag-focus siya,” she added. “Hindi nga gumigimik yun. Saka pag aalis siya, kasama pa ko.”
Mrs. Belencion also revealed how Jaypee keeps his focus despite the uncertainty of his tenure in the team.
“Hindi siya nade-depress o nagrereklamo. Positive thinker siya. Instead na magmukmok siya sa gilid dahil kunwari naibaba siya sa reserve, mas lalo siya nagsisikap,” said the wife.
“Si Jaypee kasi alam niya yung halaga ng opportunity. Alam niya na hangga’t nasa lineup siya, hangga’t mayroon siyang kontrata, anytime pwede kang tawagin para maglaro. At proud ako kasi hindi niya binibigo coaches niya,” she added.
And though he has only played a total of 26 games in his first two years in the league after being picked with the 17th selection overall by Talk 'N Text in the 2012 rookie draft, Belencion is ready to provide quality minutes each time his number is called by GlobalPort coach Ritchie Ticzon.
Still, it hasn't been easy.
Belencion recalled how he twice lost a chance to emerge as Best Player of the Game, one of the immediate targets in his career, because of cruel twists.
“Kaso dalawang beses kami nadisgrasya. Talo kami. Yung una kong magandang laro … ilang three points nagawa ko, panalo na kami, kaso na-i-shoot ni Sunday (Salvacion) yung buzzer beater na tres,” he said of the game against the Meralco Bolts last February 24.
“Tapos yung kagabi (Friday night) … Tinalo naman kami ng Petron. Pero ayos lang. Bawi na lang kami next game,” he added.
And though at the back of his mind Jaypee knows he is just playing on borrowed time, Belencion vows to continue striving hard to finally earn his spot in the rotation.
“Yun lang naman ang laban ko eh. Ang i-make sure na ready ako lagi. Ang mag-ensayo pa ng mas maigi. Siyempre, your spot in the team is not given, it is earned sabi nga nila, di ba?” said the former Letran Knight.
His hard work, at least, has not gone unnoticed.
“I liked what I saw in him. Actually, I always admire how Jaypee would give us quality minutes," said GlobalPort head of basketball operations Erick Arejola. "I just hope he remains resilient. He has potential.”