Gilas Pilipinas guard SJ Belangel was just like everyone else on Tuesday evening, waiting on who the Philippines will be slotted with for the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
And when the Philippines was announced as grouped with arch-rival South Korea, the 22-year-old Ateneo guard could not hide his smile.
“Sobrang excited!” the 5-foot-10 native of Bacolod quipped to Tiebreaker Times.
Who could ever forget the magical night Belangel had against Korea back on June 16?
With the game knotted at 78-all and 2.5 seconds left, Belangel – on one foot – launched a desperation triple over the defense of the much bigger Lee Seonghyun. It was the “Miracle in Angeles.”
Four days later, Gilas proved that their win over South Korea was no fluke. They completed their sweep of the qualifiers with an 82-77 win.
The World Cup Qualifiers will begin in November this year, with two more windows in February and June. Also grouped with Gilas and South Korea are New Zealand and India.
For his part, Belangel plans on working harder than ever so that he can earn another Gilas call-up and another crack at South Korea.
“Kailangan ko muna paghirapan ang slot ko para makalaro kalaban sila muli at ma-represent yung country,” said Belangel.
“It’s a goal to face them again but may steps pa na need ma-accomplish. Step by step muna.”