Most of his playing years were spent on the bench. Nobody expected him to be in the spotlight this season. But in one UE game, an unfamiliar name resounded at the state-of-the-art MOA Arena – Red Warrior Gene Belleza. He led his team in a king-size upset win over defending champion Ateneo with 28 points.
Born on July 30, 1989, Gene fell in love with basketball at a young age.
“Nakahiligan ko na ang basketball bata pa lang ako,” said the six-feet tall guard. “My greatest inspiration is my brother. He wanted to be a basketball player someday pero sa akin napunta yung chance,” he added.
Through the support of his parents Felix and Merlita, Gene aims to become a professional basketball player in the future as well as finish his course in Business Management.
“Siyempre gusto kong maging pro basketball player. If not, [I hope to be] a successful businessman,” shared the 22-year old cager.
With a big heart for basketball, Gene pursued playing when he entered college. A transferee from San Beda College, he tried out for the Red Warriors under former mentor Lawrence Chongson. Belleza made the cut.
“Nag try-out ako noon. Si Coach Lawrence pa ang coach ng team noon. Tapos natanggap naman ako,” revealed the Valenzuela native.
Belleza had hoped to make it to UE’s roster much earlier with his possessed skills and looks. But he stayed with the school’s training pool much longer than he wanted. New recruits came in year after year that made it tough for Gene to land a spot in the squad. But he just kept the faith and continued to work hard. His main goal was to help the team win even if it meant sacrificing a slot for others.
But now, Belleza finally got his wish and was included in the current roster. He was thankful to all the coaches who have helped hone his skills. He admitted that he will not be the kind of athlete he is now if it weren’t for the help of his previous mentors.
With interim coach Boycie Zamar now at the helm of the Red Warriors, Gene vowed to give his very in this, his last year.
Belleza also remains grateful to the ever-supportive UE Community and UAAP supporters who never fail to cheer and sing with them in victory or defeat.
“I’ll just keep motivating them [the team] to fight hard on court and play the game like it’s our last.”
This article was published at Yahoo! Ph Sports: