If last year's UAAP final were a hint of what's coming, Ateneo SJ Belangel and Mark Nonoy of the University of Santo Tomas could get into epic duels in the next UAAP seasons.
Belangel had big hits for the Blue Eagles when they made a sweep of the Tigers in the final last November, in which the rookie nonoy finally demonstrated its true value with a 26-point explosion when he made his first championship appearance.
Since their seniors Matt Nieto and Renzo Subido are already becoming professionals, both Belangel and Nonoy, who grew up in Negros Occidental in cities just an hour apart, are ready to take on bigger roles in season 83 .
"Already when I was in my rookie season, coach Aldin [Ayo] gave me a voice in the team," Nonoy said on Friday night in the CPT crossover podcast.
"But I didn't think I could take on this role completely. At the moment I'm working hard to prepare to lead the team, lead the team, and serve as the second coach on the team while I'm on the ground. "
Belangel, born in Bacolod City, already has several UAAP titles under his belt, but insists that he is anything but satisfied.
After his MVP performance in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League, Belangel said his first two seasons with the Blue Eagles had prepared him to become a more vocal leader in the team.
"Everyone has a vote on the team, but I also received a lot of mentoring from my seniors Matt and Mike [Nieto] and Thirdy [Ravena]," said Belangel. "I could also learn more about leadership from coach Jimmy [Alapag]. The importance of leading by example. Lead the team by working the hardest. "
Ateneo will fight for a fourth consecutive title in season 83 that is still in the air as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought sport to a standstill.
Nonoy said his immediate goal was to deliver a championship to UST.
These goals put them on a collision course.
"I respect his game. He is always calm. I don't see him panicking, "Nonoy said, jokingly adding," But he'll have to be careful next season. "
“Defending [Nonoy] is always difficult. I am sure that in our UAAP career we will be playing a lot of big games against each other, ”said Belangel.
Nonoy hopes that if continuously improved, he will be considered for selection in the national team – a goal that he shared with Belangel.
"I take it year after year," said Nonoy, who comes from La Carlota City. "It was a dream of mine to represent the country that I didn't experience when I was young because I was still playing in the province."
Nonoy's game has drawn comparisons to Gilas Pilipina's legend Jayson Castro due to its speed.
"The goal is to be at your level," said Nonoy.
"I'm trying to learn more about his game and how he controls his speed. I know that I have the advantage speed, but I also know that it is difficult for me to take parts of the [Jayson’s] Game to see that I can add to mine. "
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