SJ Belangel frustrated with early fouls but keeps focus to make the big endgame shots for Eaglets
SJ Belangel gets limited action in the first half but comes up huge in the last two quarters. Marlo Cueto

TWO early fouls kept him from getting into a groove, but SJ Belangel caught fire in the second half and ended up making the big endgame baskets as Ateneo completed a sweep of the elims.

The 18-year-old Belangel helped the Blue Eaglets prevent a collapse, scoring 16 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to beat the NU Bullpups for a 14-0 record in the UAAP juniors basketball tournament.

The 6-foot Belangel scored 27 in the second half, shooting 12 for 17, and pulled down. He also had three steals, one leading to a lay-up that broke a 68-68 tie.

It was Belangel’s 11th straight points en route to an Ateneo victory.

“Actualy, na-foul trouble ako,” said Belangel, who only played seven minutes in the first half after getting two fouls. “Una, nagalit ako sa sarili ko. I wanted to play pero it’s not about me, it’s about the team at kung ano magagawa ko sa bench. ‘Yun ang pinakaimportante.”

After the Blue Eaglets took a 40-30 lead thanks to Dave Ildefonso’s 13 points, Belangel took over, motivated to contribute after his teammates stepped up.

“‘Yun din sabi nila ni Dave sa akin na take over mo na. Ikaw na bahala. Ginawa na namin ‘yung first half. Dun din ako na-motivate,” said Belangel.

“Sa amin, we take it one game at a time kaya everytime na nasa ganitong sitwasyon, it all boils down to the veterans which is kami,” he added.

Belangel said the tough win should be a boost in morale heading into the finals.

“Binigyan lang ako ng kumpiyansa ng mga teammates ko at ng mga coaches ko kaya nanalo kami ng ganito. Great team effort kahit may mga palpak kami. Sa huli, na-solve namin,” said Belangel.

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