For four years, Mac Belo was jersey number 12 for the Far Eastern University Tamaraws. The UAAP Season 78 Finals MVP led the Tamaraws to new heights in the early parts of the decade, steering the team to back-to-back finals appearances and leaving a championship in his final year.
This season, Cebuano wing Monbert Arong has changed his jersey from #15 a year ago to #12. And with it comes the pressure, especially in the clutch moments.
Sunday afternoon, the 24-year-old, who is in his last year of duty with the FEU Tamaraws, delivered one of the top clutch moments this season against rivals National University Bulldogs.
With 6.6 seconds left in the game, Arong was able to fake Cameroonian student-athlete Alfred Aroga out of his socks and leave himself wide open for the game-winning jumper with 3.3 ticks left.
“Alam ko nang mangyayari yun kasi yung tao ni Alfred, si Holmqvist, yung nag-screen so alam ko nang magso-show siya,” the former SWU Cobra said.
“Ang tendency, kasi seconds na lang, kung ‘di siya tatalon, ititira ko. E tumalon siya.”
“Basta sabi kasi ni coach Nash, i-shoot mo, e di ishoo-shoot ko,” quipped Arong, who finished the game with 13 points but was just 5-of-13.
Wearing the same number as Belo, who was one of the most clutch players to ever grace the UAAP, also handed him a little bit of luck, he shared.
“Parang suwerte ata yung number ni Kuya Mac eh,” he said.
“Naisip kong mag-change ako ng number kasi idol ko rin si Kuya Mac e.”
Belo had given his permission, allowing him to wear FEU’s #12, but with one condition.
“Nanood siya nung NU first round, sabi niya sakin, ‘wag mo akong ipahiya pards ha. Jersey number ko yan,'” he shared.
“Sabi ko, basta laro lang ako kuya Mac.”