By Adrian Stewart Co
Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles guard Samjosef Belangel got a chance of a lifetime after getting invited to join the Gilas Pilipinas training pool preparing for international competitions later this year.
The Bacolod City-native Belangel was among the new faces tapped by Gilas Pilipinas program director Thomas “Tab” Baldwin to enter the national men’s basketball team’s training bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna on Monday.
This will be the first time that Belangel was considered for the national squad although he has represented the country before as part of the Blue Eagles team that competed in William Jones Cup in Thailand.
Belangel was a known scorer in Western Visayas during his high school years where he dropped 99 points in a single game at a 13-and-under tournament in Iloilo City in 2012 and 85 points in one match in Bacolod City a year later.
Belangel had stints with Eliakim Learning School, University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, St. Joseph’s Academy in Iloilo City and Bacolod Tay Tung High School before transferring to Ateneo High School.
Aside from Belangel, other new faces in the Gilas Pilipinas pool were Blue Eagles teammates Kyle Ong, Gian Mamuyac, Jason Credo, Joshua Lazaro, Troy Mallillin and Geo Chiu.
Also included in the training roster were Far Eastern University Tamaraws’ RJ Abarrientos, University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons’ Carl Tamayo and Ateneo High School’s Lebron Lopez.
Completing the Gilas pool were Antiqueno Tzaldy John Rangel, Jordan Heading, William Navarro, Frederick Tungcab, Dave Ildefonso, Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, Chris Koon, and Angelo Kouame.
The month-long training camp is in preparation for the Clark window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the 2021 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, both set in June.
“We have to prepare for the FIBA window and OQT in June. As it stands right now, the rosters will be selected without PBA players. So we obviously need to work with the players available,” said Baldwin. “We need to establish first who the roster will be and building that roster into a competitive team.”/ASC, WDJ