MANILA, Philippines -- There was a different energy to Rain Or Shine big man Beau Belga in their game against Barangay Ginebra on Tuesday night, which saw him lead the Elasto Painters to an 85-82 overtime win.
For Belga, it was not just the usual thrill of playing the Gin Kings and trying to take down the perennial crowd favorites. He was specially motivated during the game after having been stung by a criticism on social media earlier in the day.
"This morning kasi, meron akong isang motivation," Belga revealed after the contest, wherein he was named Best Player of the Game. "Isang hater, binatikos ako sa social media."
"Puro pananakit lang daw ang ginagawa ko sa PBA," he said. "I just wanna prove it tonight. So 'yun 'yung challenge ko sa'kin, sa sarili."
At least for one game, Belga quieted those critics. He put up 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, along with 10 rebounds and four assists. In overtime, despite his clear exhaustion, he scored five points -- including the go-ahead layup wherein he rebounded his own miscue and scored past a gaggle of Ginebra defenders.
With just a minute and a half to go, Belga drained the dagger three-pointer for an 83-78 lead that kept the Elasto Painters in full control.
"Puso ko na lang ang nagpapatakbo sa akin," said Belga after the game. "Willingness na manalo in today's game. And good thing, good thing na nakuha namin 'yung panalo tonight."
Rain Or Shine coach Caloy Garcia would later say that it was one of the best games he has seen Belga play. Even more than his production on the court, however, it was Belga's leadership that was most important to his coach.
"Where Beau goes, we go," Garcia said. "Kasi, he's probably one of the best big men in the PBA. He knows how to distribute the ball, and know, he's been working really hard in practice and trying to show the ropes to the rookies."
Garcia was not aware of the social media criticism that spurred Belga's superb outing, but he was not surprised to see the veteran respond in a positive way.
"That's how strong Beau is," he said. "Magaling siyang magdala sa sarili."
The Elasto Painters rose to solo second as their win took them to 4-1, while the Gin Kings suffered a second straight loss and dropped to 4-2.