BEYOND the scoreboards, SJ Belangel is also laser-focused on maintaining another kind of record — his academic one.
Belangel's philosophy professor gladly shared a memorable story about being a mentor of the Ateneo shooting guard.
"In the past years I've had a number of members of the college basketball team in my class, but it's the first time I've asked one that we have a photo taken and post it online," associate professor Remmon Barbaza began in a recently uploaded Facebook post, as he shared a snap with Belangel in an online consultation.
He continued: "I was doing so to let others know what a model athlete he is — earnest and serious with his studies while remaining committed to improving his skills as an athlete, and not letting anything get into his head."
The 21-year-old was part of the Thirdy Ravena-led Blue Eagle squad that made a historic 16-0 season sweep last UAAP Season 82. He rose to the occasion, draining five treys that sealed their win over the University of Santo Tomas.
He was a sophomore back then.
Just June this year, Belangel again made quite an impression, pulling off a buzzer-beating three-pointer to complete the Gilas Pilipinas' 81-78 victory over rival South Korea in the third window of the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers.
SJ Belangel work ethic extends beyond the court
While the 5-foot-10 guard has often been described as good-natured, it is an interesting revelation that his hard work goes beyond the courts.
"He remains humble and childlike, enjoying the sport that he loves the most without getting obsessed about accolades or winning at all costs," Barbaza said of the young man.
In one course requirement, a reflection paper, he shared that Belangel discussed his athletic experiences in relation to their subject matter.
"He focused on Simone Weil's discussion of the faculty of attention as 'a negative effort,' an idea that he sees to be echoed by his coach, Tab Baldwin, who would always tell them to enjoy the game by 'letting the game come to you,'" he said.
Barbaza also revealed that SJ was modest enough to seek advice to improve his academic performance.
"In the middle of the semester, SJ felt disheartened when he received the result of his second graded assignment, and sought my advice on how to improve (again, in the spirit of Weil). And indeed, in his last reflection paper and in today's final oral exam, he did show much improvement, reminiscent of his buzzer-beating three-point shot that looked impossible," he continued.
The professor added: "Kudos, SJ! Keep up the good work, and don't let anything keep you from simply enjoying the game."
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