SOTY 2021: Coach Mau Belen breaks barriers

Meet the Sportsman who Defied the Odds
Feb 5, 2022

While the NBA has Becky Hammon and Lindsey Harding calling the shots for the San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings as active assistant coaches, the PBA can bet on coach Mau Belen of the TNT Tropang Giga.

In the NBA history, there have been 15 women who served the position, but in the PBA, Belen is the pioneer.

And with that upper hand, she's dead set on blazing the trail.


Just nine months into being part of the franchise, Belen has already proven herself hefty.

First is winning the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup title in October with her duties revolving around the team's videos and stats, and steering the team to a sensational run in the inaugurual 3x3 competition, as its head coach.

Besides a second-seeded Grand Finals finish, Almond Vosotros, Samboy de Leon, Lervin Flores and Jeremiah Gray got a first-place honor in the maiden leg, two second-placers and third-placers, apiece, in the six legs of the 3x3.

All that, and it's not even a year in time.

How it all began for Mau Belen

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It was the end of March 2021 when Belen started joining the staff of coach Chot Reyes after the veteran mentor himself offered her the position.

Reyes must have seen an encouraging performance from Belen after she finished on top of his basketball coaching masterclass program he conducted over the pandemic, where the 30-year-old was one of the 16 participants.

And he's not wrong.

Coach Mau had a fair share of contributions to the franchise's run into another conference, however it was halted indefinitely due to the quarantine protocols.

She also gets to sit down with the guys, from time to time, sharing her personal pleas with them.

An active supporter of Gilas Women and the WNBL, Belen continues to paint a path of her own in the PBA with the bigger goal of giving women a representation - of being visible.



"I’m done feeling sorry because I’m a woman,” Belen says. “The biggest challenge will always be trying to educate people and making them understand that it’s not all about whether you’re a man or a woman, if you deserve the role, you should have it. This way, I can inspire one girl at a time and make them know, that they also can.”

And as we waited 46 years (since the PBA's founding in 1975) to see this happen, she earned the honor of "Sportsman Who Defied the Odds" in's 2021 Sportsman of the Year awards.

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