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(C) SJ Belangel

2023 FIBA World Cup

Abarrientos, Belangel stay ready, hoping for Gilas call up

The last stop for this batch of Gilas Pilipinas is about to end in just two months.

Come August 25, the culmination of four years of blood, sweat, and tears of the 46 players who represented the Philippines in numerous FIBA tournaments heads to its final stage in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

And there are two young guns who helped build the foundation for this batch of Gilas are hoping to have at least a shot of making it to the World Cup team — RJ Abarrientos and SJ Belangel.

“Sa totoo lang, I’m just waiting for the call. I’m available,” Abarrientos told Tiebreaker Times during the ‘My Korea Story’ event organized by the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines on Saturday.

“For me, siyempre, gustong-gusto ko ulit makabalik sa Gilas. Gusto ko mag-tweet nga ulit nung parang tweet ko dati na ‘soon magiging part ulit ako ng Gilas’,” added Belangel.

The duo of RJ and SJ were the guards who stepped up for Gilas amid the pandemic back in 2021.

With the two steering the wheel, Gilas went on to sweep the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers.

2021-fiba-asia-cup-qualifiers-gilas-vs-korea-SJ-Belangel Abarrientos, Belangel stay ready, hoping for Gilas call up 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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They also made sure that the Philippines had a fighting chance during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.

2021-fiba-asia-cup-serbia-def-gilas-abarrientos-vs-teodosic Abarrientos, Belangel stay ready, hoping for Gilas call up 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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Abarrientos and Belangel were never called up after the Asia Cup proper despite the Korean Basketball League having an ‘international break’ during windows.

All in all, the two young floor generals played 11 of the 19 FIBA-sanctioned games Gilas participated in. They were also part of the Gilas teams that played in the 2021 King Abdullah Cup and friendlies against China and Korea.

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And they are staying ready, hoping to get at least a crack at finishing what they started.

2022-23-KBL-Season-Ulsan-x-Daegu-RJ-Abarrientos-and-SJ-Belangel Abarrientos, Belangel stay ready, hoping for Gilas call up 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news


“I’m practicing as hard as I can now, nag-bulk up ako, and inaayos ko yung mga weaknesses not just for the KBL season but also for Gilas. I’m just ready for a call-up if meron man,” said Belangel, who honed his craft with Daegu KOGAS over the past year.

“‘Yan kasi ang ultimate dream naming lahat, which is to represent the country and to help the team in any way possible.”

“Everyday, sinasabi ko sa sarili ko na I’m ready. At inaamin ko na nasa kondisyon ako. Hindi naman ako tumigil kahit nung na-out na kami. Araw-araw pa rin ako nag-eensayo,” shared Abarrientos, the reigning KBL Rookie of the Year who plays for Ulsan Hyundai Mobis.

“Waiting lang ako sa call up ng Gilas and I’m ready to represent the flag again.”

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