The game-winning buzzer-beater that gave Gilas Pilipinas a thrilling 81-78 shocker against South Korea is that one shot SJ Belangel will never forget.
The 21-year-old came a long way from his playing days in Bacolod, to his UAAP stint with Ateneo de Manila Univefsity and now the FIBA stage with Gilas Pilipinas.
"Actually sa sobrang saya, hindi ako nakatulog masyado. Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala, pero sobrang saya at ang ganda ng gising ko. Nagiging-Joker na po (ang mukha ko) ako kaka-smile ko," Belangel said in an interview in CNN Sports Desk while talking about the dagger three that brought down Korea.
The victory happened eight years after Gilas' historic win against South Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship semifinals.
"Dati pinapangarap ko lang makalaro sa Manila. Two years ago pinangarap kong makalaro sa Gilas," confessed Belangel. "Binigyan ako ng opportunity ni God na makapaglaro dito. That moment yesterday ito na ata ang pinaka-memorable sa career ko."
The 5-foot-10 Belangel admitted the clutch shot was a product of both skill and luck, since he had to do it in front of a tall Korean defender.
After receiving the inbound from Dwight Ramos, he pump-faked an attempt before twisting sideways and firing the triple.
"Knowing na ako 'yung pa-curl na palapit (kay Dwight), tinawag ko si Dwight na ipasa sa akin 'yung bola... Kay Carl (Tamayo) po talaga 'yung play, nagkataon na ako 'yung pa-curl sa corner," he said.
Since he could not get a clear look at the ring, Belangel targeted the board to make the shot.
"Honestly tinarget ko 'yung boarding since 'yun ang best option sa angle ng tira ko. Hindi ko in-expect na papasok. It was a difficult shot, tinarget ko 'yung board, 'yun ang best option ko," said Belangel.
The win made Belangel's Gilas debut a memorable one. He finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-9 field goal shooting, five rebounds, two assists in just 23 minutes of play.
But Belangel said their work is not yet done.
Although Gilas has already clinched a seat in the FIBA Asia Cup by virtue of that win, they still have to play against Indonesia and South Korea again.
"Having that debut, sobrang saya pero there's a lot to improve pa. Every time you step in the court kailangang may matutunan ka individually (and) as a team... Marami pang kailangang i-improve," he said.
FROM THE ARCHIVES