SJ Belangel raring to face fellow Filipino imports in Korean Basketball League
MANILA, Philippines — SJ Belangel is flying to Korea on Friday for his upcoming debut for the Daegu KOGAS Pegasus in the 2022-23 Korean Basketball League (KBL).
The 23-year-old Belangel was the first Filipino player who was announced to take his act to the KBL.
After he took the opportunity with Daegu KOGAS, several Korean teams followed suit with RJ Abarrientos joining Ulsan Hyundai Mobis, Justin Gutang signing with Changwon LG, Ethan Alvano (Wonju DB), William Navarro (Seoul Samsung), and Rhenz Abando (Anyang KGC).
Belangel is raring to play against his compatriots and show the talent of a Filipino basketball player in Korea.
“I’m excited to meet them (in Korea). We have a deal that whichever team will host our game will treat the visiting Filipino import. Like what I told RJ when I visit his team’s province he will treat me. But when we host them, I will treat him,” Belangel said during Jalen Green’s promotional tour on Thursday.
“But inside the court, we all know that we are against each other. We’re there to represent our country, we’re there to represent our new team. At the end of the day, we’re still friends. But during games, we give our best,” he added.
The Ateneo standout, who decided to forgo his last two UAAP playing years to take this global opportunity, admitted he has mixed emotions ahead of his first professional stint, especially leaving his teammate Ange Kouame behind.
“I am so excited. It’s my first time out. I’ve been talking to Ange that it’s my first time that we won’t play together after a long time. He is looking for our picture during our rookie year, our first time in school. But we haven’t found it yet. So I am a bit emotional,” said Belangel in Filipino.
“But we just have to grow and update each other. I’m just excited to play in Korea.”
The Gilas Pilipinas point guard’s first order of business in Korea is learning his team’s style and getting to know his teammates.
“When I arrive, I just have to train more on their plays. I think there will be games next week. I might play or not. But I’m there to see what I need to do and I have to master the plays,” Belangel said. “My teammates told me it’s easy. But as a newcomer I know it’s going to be challenging.”