SUDDENLY, the road to a fifth straight PBA D-League is no longer well-paved for NLEX.
Just days after seven-footer Greg Slaughter took a leave of absence from the team to attend to his studies at Ateneo, the Road Warriors lost another crucial piece when they released big man Ian Sangalang to EA Regenerative Medicine-Pampanga squad.
NLEX team manager Ronald Dulatre explained the move was a sacrifice made by the team to maintain a good relationship with the group of Sangalang’s manager, Dennis Pineda, who manages several marquee players suiting up for the different teams owned by Manny V. Pangilinan.
“Ni-release na lang namin, kasi we want to foster good relationship with Mayor Pineda,” said Dulatre, who admitted the team is letting Sangalang go with a heavy heart.
“Mabigat talaga sa loob namin, kasi siya na lang ang big man eh. Dati 6-7 ang average height namin, ngayon 6-1 na lang,” admitted Dulatre, who added NLEX tried to negotiate for a direct trade with EA ReGEN team‘s other big man Raymond Almazan.
“Kinukuha nga namin si Almazan, para naman magkaroon kami ng malaki. Kaso hindi sila pumayag. Hindi na namin pinilit,” Dulatre bared. “But even sa last minute, we are still hoping na we can resolve with Pampanga bosses the Sangalang-Almazan swap.”
Meanwhile, Pineda was surprised by the sudden turn of events, especially since NLEX initially refused to released Sangalang, whom the Road Warriors said is still under contract with the team until July.
“Magandang balita yun, kung talagang ni-release na nga nila si Ian. Pero hindi muna ako magsasaya at magbibigay ng comment hangga’t di ko nakikitang lumaro siya sa amin,” said Pineda, whose team makes its debut against fellow newcomer Hog’s Breath Café at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Ynares Arena in Pasig.
Prior to the start of the 2013 Foundation Cup, NLEX already allowed its other big man Gregory Slaughter to take a leave to focus on his studies at Ateneo, where he is enrolled in summer classes.
Dulatre, meanwhile, revealed that Slaughter has already agreed to suit up for the team come the playoffs.
“Yes, yun naman ang good news namin ngayon. Greg agreed to again play for us,” beamed Dulatre. “Aayusin lang daw niya `yung schedule niya sa school tapos lalaro siya ulit.”
The NLEX boss also told Spin.ph that the Road Warriors are now in search of a free agent big man who can fill the void temporarily left by Slaughter and Sangalang.