A day after Rain or Shine dismantled Barangay Ginebra, 82-79, the talk of the local basketball world isn’t about coach Yeng Guiao’s masterful coaching stroke, nor the Elasto Painters’ gutsy comeback from 18 points down.
Instead, people talk about Rain or Shine’s burly center Beau Belga.
I’ve interviewed Belga a lot of times since I joined the Spin.ph staff in 2012. Well, what you see is what you get.
Beau doesn’t mince words. He will just say what he feels. He’s passionate with the sport, which is no wonder, when he steps into the court, he means business.
Lest you come into conclusion, I’m not saying I condone with Beau’s physicality and ‘extra-curricular’ activities on the floor. For sure, Belga’s antics and “extra-animated” acts in the game like his gesture to the Ginebra fans got into the nerves of the Gin Kings’ legion of supporters.
But after seeing Ginebra suffer its second straight defeat following another endgame meltdown, I’m convinced that the Gin Kings need someone like Belga, someone who wouldn’t mind diving for loose ball, someone who will bang bodies, who will go hard to the basket and display the no-fear attitude every game day.
That’s the Ginebra I used to watch on TV when I was a kid.
I was a Great Taste Coffee fan during my younger days. And back when Great Taste plays Ginebra, I always remember the physical plays and the daring comebacks of the Gins whenever they are down by a big deficit.
During Ginebra’s earlier years of their ‘never-say-die’ play, Rudy Distrito’s name will always be mentioned.
Nicknamed the “Destroyer”, who terrorized the opposition during his heydays with daredevil drive to the basket, Distrito will always be remembered for hitting the game-winning basket in Game 7 that secured Ginebra’s place in the PBA history as the first-ever team to ever come back from a 1-3 deficit during the 1991 First Conference Finals.
Then, there’s Chito Loyzaga, Ginebra’s solid defender, who is not afraid to mix it up against taller players. I remember reading sports articles on the 6-foot-2 Loyzaga, who helped defend North Korea’s Ri Myung Hun, a 7-foot-8 giant during the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing.
Perhaps, he felt something was lacking in this new edition, and supposedly more talented Ginebra team today.
They may have the size, the athleticism, players, who could score at any given night, but, and there’s the big BUT.
Here’s what Caguioa said, and I quote: “But sometimes, may players na di naman ganun yung laro niya. Pero may ibang tao, they show the never-say-die spirit by diving for the ball and they defend, but for this team? Siguro kalahati lang ang merong never-say-die.”
So whether you love Beau or hate him, Belga had the last laugh on Sunday’s game because his team won in the end. He and his teammates clawed their way back by, ironically, using the old-fashioned, never-say-die spirit against Ginebra.