For the first time in a very long while, Mac Belo found himself on the opposing end against Nash Racela, his former mentor at Far Eastern U and a couple of national teams.
So it came as no surprise when the 6-foot-4 Belo was within hearing distance of Racela on the sidelines, gamely waiting for any instructions. None, however, came.
“It’s a weird feeling. Nasanay ako na lagi ko siyang kasama,” said Belo after his Blackwater team suffered a 92-99 loss at the hands of Racela’s Talk ’N Text on Friday night in their 2017 PBA Philippine Cup encounter at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Belo sustained his fine form, firing away a game-high 21 markers and coming up a rebound shy of a second straight double-double performance as he led the Elite’slate-game fight back from a 13-point deficit in the final frame.
His effort though was foiled by the steady KaTropa in the endgame.
The loss stopped Blackwater’s two-game winning streak—its best in franchise history—and it came at the hands of Belo’s former allies at the Tamaraws’ camp—Racela, acting TNT coach Josh Reyes and wingman Roger Pogoy.
“Kanina nagkukulitan pa kami. Nagkakamustahan kami, apir-apir. Kahit sa dorm namin, magkasama pa rin kasi kami,” said Belo of Pogoy, his fellow Gilas 5.0 member, who finished with three points, five rebounds, a steal and a lone block to help the KaTropa’s cause.
Their familiarity with Belo’s play certainly came in handy for the KaTropa who went on to win their second straight game and tied the Elite with identical 2-1 marks.
“We know Mac kinda takes it easy in the first two quarters and then he takes over in the second half. It’s just a challenge for our players. Luckily we’re able to get the stops we needed,” said Reyes, who was still left in awe with Belo’s showing that included two assists and a steal against four errors in 38 minutes of play.
“That’s the caliber of Belo. That’s the kind of player that he is. Despite having a thorough scouting report on him, it says a lot. And I’m not surprised.”
However, Belo felt he still struggled to deal with his latest predicament.
“Doon pa nga ako sa side niya (Racela) lagi. Nag-aantay ako ng instructions ‘yun pala nasa kabilang side na siya,” he said with a smile. “Matagal ko kasi siya nakasama. Sa FEU, SEA Games, SEABA. Alam niya lahat ng tendencies ko. Kaya napapaisip rin talaga ko.”
But when the dust settled, Belo still got a big pat on his back. “Good game. ‘Yan ang sabi nila coach Nash and coach Josh sa akin,” he said. – Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @Budoy Lagunzad