Beau Belga is hoping for better results in a second stint with Mighty Sports for the upcoming 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.
But unlike the first time he played for the club in 2017, the Rain or Shine center will be taking a backseat in favor of collegiate standouts and imports looking to make a name for themselves in this year's edition, which will be shown live on One Sports with livestream on ESPN5.com.
"Biniro ko lang si (coach) Charles (Tiu). Sabi ko, 'Charles, baka naman pwede ako diyan'. Sabi niya, 'Actually cino-consider kita,'" he shared. "Sabi nga ni Charles sa'kin, 'Limited minutes ka lang.' Sabi ko, 'Kahit 'di mo ko gamitin, OK lang.'"
Belga was part of a veteran-laden Mighty Sports side that struggled in the invitational tourney's edition two years ago. Despite being bannered by former NBA players Hasheem Thabeet and Dominic McGuire, as well as Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, naturalized player Marcus Douthit and a handful of PBA veterans, the team managed to tally only one win in four outings.
Also part of that team were Gary David, Willie Miller, JC Intal, Ryan Araña and Chris Tiu, as well as rookies Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng and Jett Manuel.
The 12-year veteran sees this possible mentorship role as a favorable situation -- and one that isn't an unfamiliar concept after having stayed around for multiple training pools with Gilas Pilipinas even with a lack of guarantee that he'd be rostered for the final lineup.
"'Yung players noon, more on veterans. Dito naman, puro bagito. Ako lang nag-iisang PBA player dito eh. Tapos mga import. Dito, siguro 'yung eagerness na magpakita ang importante kasi malaking bagay sa mga bagito 'to eh. Kumbaga exposure rin 'to sa international eh. And it's not an easy job na ibibigay mo sa kanila. I think they're up for the challenge," he said.
"Being the old guy, isa sa pinakamatanda dito, kailangan mo i-guide nang maayos 'tong mga 'to (one of the oldest players here, I have to guide these guys properly)," he added.
At 33, Belga is the oldest local in a roster composed of Gilas veteran Andray Blatche, former NBA forward Renaldo Balkman, 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto, college stars Thirdy Ravena, Dave Ildefonso, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, and Jamie Malonzo, Mikey Williams, McKenzie Moore, Jelan Kendrick, Joaqui Manuel, Joseph Yeo, Gab Banal and Jarrell Lim.
With what he thinks is a good mix of talent across the board, Belga thinks his role on this iteration of Mighty Sports could fit what the team needs in its goal to improve from a third-place finish last year.
Belga and the rest of the squad will have to work double-time, though, as the tournament is already set to tip off on Jan. 23.
"Bad kasi 'yung una. Medyo masama. We didn't even go to the second round. This time, siguro kaya mag-semis (maybe we can reach the semis," rued Belga.
"You have a good import. You have Andray, Renaldo, McKenzie, and a good set of talented collegiate guys," he added. "So ngayon, we're adapting the system of Charles kasi maiksi 'yung time (because the time is short). We don't have a leeway to make a mistake every single day. Kailangan every day may natututunan kami na nakaka-catch up sa mga pwede naming gawin."