Dream come true

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By Henry G. Doble

Take Two

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TAKING the most valuable player award of the Junior NBA All Star game is a dream come true that Samjosef Belangel did not see coming.

Out of the 50 standouts from the national training camp of Alaska S.T.A.R., SJ of Bacolod Tay Tung High School was among those who survived the Top 20 which three other players from Bacolod did not.

When it rains, it pours and the incoming third year high at the Ateneo de Manila University seems to be on a roll. The son of Sammy Dave and the nephew of Tata was simply himself, and years of training from both tutors paid off.


Playing against the best campers all over the country, SJ shone brightest in the All Star. Luigi Velasco of La Salle took the MVP award for the national training camp and it seems their paths are being laid out for their future encounter.

According to SJ's dad, the Greenhills ace is taller but the former Thunderbolt held his own during the three-day tests in two camps every time both were matched up.

With his feat, Samjosef and the rest of the top ten male performers and the five female awardees will have a chance to fly and play in the United States. Only a handful are blessed to earn this reward and God is too good for this 14-year-old.

SJ is the latest talented Negros product to follow the footsteps of players like Jeff Chan, Nonoy Baclao, James Yap, the Bautista Brothers, Luigi dela Paz, LA Revilla, Kib Montalbo and others who we might have missed.

SJ, however, is different from Chan (FEU); Yap (UE); Bautistas (UST/NU); De la Paz, Revilla, Montalbo (DLSU) while Baclao went to ADMU as a college player. The member of 2013 Batang Pinoy 3-on-3 champion Bacolod Team is only an incoming junior and his academic studies will be "normal" and not "adjusted."

Based on Ateneo Eaglets Facebook account and as confirmed by his father, SJ has contributed well in AdMU's win over University of the East in the Freego League and the kid is excited of the games to come.

SJ will be surely and sourly missed here but his BTTHS buddies Miggy Corteza, JM Pedrosa and Errol Pastor are making up for his absence in the Coca Cola PBA Youngstars.

His flight to Ateneo campus might have decreased the power of the Thunderbolts but it is a blessing in disguise as those who were left behind will make a name for themselves and might give Tay Tung a championship title sans SJ.

It is SJ's destiny to transfer school early and what a timely entry. His parents will have to adjust living in the Big City but at the rate their son is going, the transition might come easy.

And what can they ask for from a skillful and obedient son: member of Batang Pinoy 3-on-3 champion team; part of the 18 Filipinos who went to US as part of State Department's sports program; and one of the Top Ten Junior NBA best performers and All Star MVP.

Becoming a Blue Eaglet is a dream come true. Joining a Philippine team is just a spin away.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 29, 2014.


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