For Fiba WC qualifiers, SJ Belangel to play every game 'like it's a championship'

Sep 1, 2021
PHOTO: Fiba Asia Cup

REMEMBER that moment of bliss from three months ago, when SJ Belangel shot that buzzer-beating long bomb in a thrilling, last-second upset over Korea in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers?

He's hoping to have more moments like that in the coming Fiba World Cup Qualifiers in November.

Although the Philippines, as tournament hosts, is already guaranteed a ticket to the World Cup, Belangel says that the team is as eager as ever to show the world what they've got — echoing the words of top SBP official Ryan Gregorio, who told Spin.ph after the draw that Gilas is not slacking off.

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    SJ Belangel looking forward to Group A

    On Tuesday's draw, PH was slated under Group A in Asia with New Zealand, India, and Korea.

    The Ateneo guard bared he was satisfied with the results of the draw. The combo of familiar foes and new was, in Belangel's opinion, a good standpoint for them to weigh their progress.

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    "Masaya ako sa kinalabasan ng groupings since bagong pagkakataon naman maipakita 'yung improvement namin as a team," he told SPIN Life.

    The Filipinos are also coming off a two-game winning streak versus storied rivals Korea.

    "About Korea, NZ, and India, excited na po ako makabalik sa court with my teammates and coaches at makalaban sila," he said.

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    Belangel's iconic buzzer beater against Korea has seared itself into Philippine basketball history, with many hailing it as the end of the legendary "Korean curse."

    Gilas went on to prove that the win was no "lucky shot" when they convincingly beat them again, 82-77, a mere four days later.

    And, despite the upcoming tourney's "no-bearing status", Belangel knows Gilas is ready to go for more.

    "We just have to stick to the system, and take every game as a championship game," the 22-year-old said. "Just one game at a time."

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    PHOTO: Fiba Asia Cup
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