IAN Sangalang is in no rush to decide on whether to turn pro or not late this year after winning both the Best Player of the Conference award and the D-League Aspirants Cup title with NLEX on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-7 slotman out of San Sebastian said he will play another conference in the developmental league before making a decision to either stay on or move up to the professional ranks.
“Titignan ko muna ’yung mga kailangang ayusin,” Sangalang said after NLEX's two-game sweep of Cagayan Valley in the finals. “May isang conference pa naman. Pinag-iisipan ko pa.”
Sangalang joined Allein Maliksi, Vic Manuel, and Cliff Hodge in the list of players who won the league's top individual award, with all three previous winners joining the PBA immediately following their accomplishment.
But Sangalang has the luxury of time to decide, and prepare, with the next D-League conference set to wrap up well ahead of the PBA draft late this year.
“Siguro November pa naman ’yung PBA draft kaya pag-iisipan ko pa,” Sangalang said.
Just a few months ago, turning pro early didn’t look like a viable option for Sangalang since he still had one year of eligibility left in the NCAA.
But the situation suddenly changed for the big man from Pampanga when top Stags patron Dennis Pineda cut ties with the school. Sangalang felt it was prudent to follow his longtime benefactor out of the Stags lair and forego his final playing year.
Pineda, who also acts as the manager of both Sangalang and Abueva, had said in a previous interview with Spin.ph that he prefers the slotman to end up at Barangay Ginebra.
Now the pros beckon, and Sangalang could be joining a talented pool of draftees led by fellow slotman and NLEX teammate Greg Slaughter, who recently played out his eligibility with Ateneo.
For now, Sangalang takes the spotlight from Slaughter and the other NLEX stars after being named MVP.
“Challenge sa akin ’yun. Kaya pinagtatrabahuan ko talaga bawat practice. Go hard ako lagi sa practice. Kaya siguro napunta sa akin ’yung award,” he said.