SJ Belangel’s game-winning three that gave Gilas Pilipinas a dramatic 81-78 win over South Korea in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers capped off a performance that saw him display steely nerves in his national team debut.
The 5-foot-10 Ateneo guard became the hero of all heroes in Gilas’ comeback from a 17-point deficit at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center when he banked in an off-balanced three from the right elbow off South Korean big man Seounghyun Lee to beat the buzzer.
Certainly, confidence was something that was not lacking for the 21-year-old guard, one of many young Gilas players who held their own through the thrilling affair.
“For me, alam naman to ni Coach Tab (Baldwin) but di talaga ako nawawalan ng kumpiyansa sa sarili ko. Kahit anong mangyari, it all boils down to making it,” Belangel said after finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes.
Baldwin said after the game that the primary option was for Carl Tamayo to receive the inbound from Dwight Ramos under the basket for a potential winner.
But Tamayo was defended by South Korea’s naturalized player Ricardo Ratliffe while Ange Kouame had a break down on the execution, leaving Ramos to look for the best possible option.
The best option turned out to be Belangel and the rest was history.
… and the curse broke!