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Comebacking Mac Belo ready to return for Gilas after injury

Former FEU Tamaraw Mac Belo takes it one day at a time after suffering a meniscus tear in his knee

BACK IN ACTION. After missing 3 months of basketball action, Mac Belo says he’s feeling good and improving his conditioning for the Jones Cup. Photo by Alexx Esponga/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines- Mac Belo has been gazing from the sidelines since April, but the story shifts this month when the former Far Eastern University standout suits up for the national basketball team competing in the 2017 William Jones Cup from July 15 to 23.

The 6-foot-4 forward suffered a meniscus tear this past April which required surgery, preventing him from playing in the recently concluded PBA Commissioner’s Cup as well as the 2017 SEABA Championships here, where the country again snagged gold.

In a conversation with Rappler, Belo reflected on returning to ball action after a steady recovery from his knee injury.

“Sa ngayon, okay naman,” he said after Gilas won its second straight tune-up against his current PBA team Blackwater Elite. “Mas umo-okay na ‘yung pakiramdam ko.”

“Nire-ready ko nalang ‘yung self ko sa mga ganitong games kasi siyempre tuloy-tuloy ‘yung mga games namin sa Jones Cup. So kailangan, kondisyon talaga.”

(Right now, it’s okay. I’m feeling okay. I’m just preparing myself for games like this, because of course in the Jones Cup, we’re playing consecutive games. So we need to be in the right condition.)

Back in action

The Cotabato-native punched in limited minutes in Gilas Pilipinas’ victory over Blackwater on Friday, July 7.

Unlike their first match-up against the NLEX Road Warriors, where they had to weave a massive second half rally and sink in a game-winning layup, the Philippine team cruised and led for the most part against the Elite.

Belo said the team was able to hold it together defensively in the game, compared to its opener.

“’Yung defense namin (malaki ang improvement). ‘Yung game kasi namin noong first game, medyo nag-kulang pa kami sa depensa. So ngayon, na-execute na namin ‘yung gustong ipagawa ni Coach Chot,” he shared.

(Our defense has improved. Because during our first game, we had lapses defensively. So now we were able to execute what Coach Chot wanted us to do.)

He further noted that the last few sessions and tune-up matches add to the gelling and chemistry-building of the team, especially with a batch of fresh faces in import Mike Myers and Fil-German Christian Standhardinger around.

“Good experience ‘to para sa amin. Magandang preparation going to our tournament sa Jones Cup. Ngayon, medyo nakukuha na namin ‘yung game ng bawat isa. Mas gumaganda na ‘yung chemistry namin sa loob ng court and outside.”

(This is a good experience for us. It’s a good preparation going to our tournament in the Jones Cup. Right now, we’re slowly getting a feel of everybody’s game. We’re building chemistry on and outside the court.)

The country, which was represented by Mighty Sports last year, swept the previous edition of the Jones Cup. With the tourney just a few sleeps away, this batch of Gilas looks to defend the gold as it braces for all-out war.

“Lahat kami, ‘pag naglalaro, para sa bayan. Binibigay talaga namin lahat ‘yung best namin. So ‘yun ‘yung gusto naming iparating sa iba, na talagang handa kaming ibuwis lahat ng makakaya namin para sa bayan,” Belo closed.

(Every time we play, we do it for the country. We just work to the best of our abilities. That’s what we want everyone to know- that we’re ready to give everything we’ve got for the country.) Rappler.com