SJ Belangel expressed his excitement that he will soon take on fellow Gilas Pilipinas teammates once the Korean Basketball League (KBL) kicks off in October.

SJ Belangel (right) and RJ Abarrientos (UAAP Media Bureau)

Belangel revealed to select sportswriters who covered the arrival of Houston Rockets rising star Jalen Green that he was slated to travel to Korea on Friday, Aug. 12.

“Sobrang excited ako. Naglolokohan nga nga kami na every time na bumisita kami sa isa’t isang province sila manlilibre,” said the 23-year-old Belangel. “Pero at the same time, even though ganon kami, kapag naglaban-laban kami walang kaibigan and alam naman namin sa isa’t isa ‘yon.

“We’re there to represent the country. We’re there to represent out new team pero at the same time, at the end of the day, we’re still friends. Alam mo naman kami, ‘pag naglalaro kami we give our best,” added the Gilas stalwart who will suit up for the Daegu KOGAS Pegasus.

Aside from Belangel, who was the first Filipino to be under the “Asian Player Quota” in Korea, the likes of RJ Abarrientos (Ulsan Hyundai Mobis), Rhenz Abando (Anyang KGC), Will Navarro (Seoul Samsung Thunders), Ethan Alvano (Wonju DB), and Justin Gutang (Changwon LG) have already committed to their respective squads.

The two-time UAAP champion added that he would have to train as soon as he arrives in Korea and meet up with his teammates.

“Next week ata may mga laro na kami. I might play or not basta nandoon na ako para tignan kung ano pa ‘yong need ko gawin para sa mga plays na kailangan kong i-master,” added the former Ateneo standout.

Belangel, however, turned sentimental that he’s really leaving the Blue Eagles, especially parting ways with close pal Ange Kouame.

The two had spent a lot of time together as teammates both for the national team and as rookie batchmates in Ateneo.

“It’s my first time talaga na hindi ko siya makasama after a long time. Parang nakakaiyak, pero at the same time we just have to grow and update each other,” said Belangel, who nonetheless is ecstatic to unfold a new chapter of his basketball journey.

“Si Dash (Lee Dae-sung) pa lang nakakausap ko, ‘yong team captain ng Korea. Teammates kami. Madali lang naman daw sa kanya. Madali sa kanya kasi nandon na siya, sa’kin mahirap. So I’m excited, ‘yon pa lang naman ginawa nila. ‘Pag dating ko doon more on trainings and games pa raw.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (