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The Final Score: Is there rice in Lithuania for Gilas enforcer Beau Belga?

May 31, 2013 3:03pm

The practice session of Gilas Pilipinas, their last practice session before the team travels to Lithuania on June 2, just ended. Beau Belga stayed at the end of the bench. He had the number 22 and the word “PILIPINAS” on his chest.

Normally glib around fellow PBA players, Beau seemed more subdued than usual. His eyes drifted, in a good way. He sat quietly, alone in his own corner of the arena, overwhelmed by an unexpected opportunity.

“Natutuwa ako,” Beau, who is scheduled to follow his Gilas teammates in Lithuania as soon as his travel papers are in order, shared. “Yung mapasama ka lang sa training pool ng Gilas big achievement na yun. Tumutulong lang naman talaga ako sa team kasi kulang sila, tapos blessing in disguise, napasama pa ako sa trip.”

Beau appeared embarrassed by it all. Like it was too good to be true. It didn’t matter if other players ranked higher on the Gilas depth chart. It didn’t matter if perhaps the availability of other players would’ve nudged him out of the Lithuania roster. What mattered was this: he was in.

“From the start, we’ve always had Beau in our sights,” Gilas head coach Chot Reyes admitted. “There are certain realities that we have to live with but in the end, fate has a way of making sure that the people who end up on the team are the people who deserve to be on the team.”

The man who looks like he eats too much, the man with the super-funky shot-fake, the man with a reputation for hard fouls, the man who takes clutch three-point shots even if his traditional role is to push people around is the same man who has been asked to report for national duty.

“Sa Lithuania, mas malalaki. Mas pisikal. Sanay naman tayo sa ganun eh,” Beau said. “Kung marunong sila manakit, kailangan marunong din silang masaktan. Ganun lang naman ang labanan.”

I wish more people could’ve seen Beau in this different state. He talked about his role on the Gilas rotation, as designated enforcer, with surprising tenderness. Like he was touched by the assignment, deeply. Like he was going through a cathartic experience. I sensed in his soft voice and saw in his glistening eyes a sense of gratitude beyond clichés.

“Happy ako para sa kanya,” Gary David, Beau former’s PBA teammate, said. “Nag-usap kami ni Coach Chot. Sabi ko kay Coach, okay si Beau para meron tayong panindak.”

Beau still felt uneasy to mess around with his new teammates. Nahihiya pa. When a photographer assembled the players for a photo, team officials had to ask him to join the formation. Maybe he still feels like a tourist around the guys. But his impending stint in Lithuania should change all that.  

Naturally I had to ask, “Beau paano yan, baka walang extra rice sa Lithuania?”

“Game naman ako sa lahat ng tsibog eh,” Beau declared. “Okay lang yun. Kumakain naman ako ng pasta at mga pizza-pizza. Mabubusog din ako doon.” - AMD, GMA News
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