AMATEUR standout Ian Sangalang is seeing a glimmer of hope in his childhood dream to play for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA.
If the results of the first two conferences this season and the outright elimination of Air21 in the Governors Cup will be the early basis, the possibility of Ginebra ending up as owner of one of the top two picks in the November 3 Rookie Draft is indeed very big.
The Kings own the first round pick of the Express in the coming draft which will most likely figure in a draft lottery to determine the order of drafting at halftime of Game Two of the Finals on October 13.
Aside from Ginebra, also expected to figure in the first three picks are San Mig Coffee (which owns the pick of Globalport), and Rain or Shine (from Barako Bull).
If all else falls according to plan, the possibility of Sangalang suiting up for the Kings might be fulfilled.
“Syempre, natutuwa din ako kasi may posibilidad na mag-number one `yung Ginebra, kasi nga Barangay Ginebra fan ako dati. Bonus siguro kung kukunin nila ako,” Sangalang told Spin.ph.
“Marami rin kasing tao na gustong lumaro ako sa Ginebra, hindi lang ako,” added the agile 6-foot-7 big man who comes from a family of solid Ginebra fans.
To listen to podcast of the interview with Sangalang, click here.
The former NCAA and PBA D-League MVP even revealed how fans of the PBA’s most popular squad would send him messages everyday on his Twitter account @iansangalang2 regarding the prospect of him ending up with Ginebra.
“Andami nga nag-me-mesaage sa akin, sinasabihan ako na may tsansa ako sa Ginebra. May iba rin na nagsasabi na, ‘Nangangamoy Ginebra na raw ako!’,” he shared laughing.
“Yung preference ko for Ginebra andyan pa rin. Mawawala lang talaga yan kung may ibang team na ako na lalaruan sa PBA,” Sangalang added.
Sangalang’s agility, shooting touch, and hustle has already drawn comparison with legendary four-time league MVP Ramon Fernandez.
Although flattered by the comparison, the center out of San Sebastian College was honest enough to admit that he hasn’t seen Fernandez play in the PBA.
“Marami nga nagsasabi nun. Pero hindi ko na kasi naabutan si Sir Mon,” he said. “Kahit si coach Ato (Agustin), sinasabi kalaro na kalaro ko nga daw.”
The former Gilas Pilipinas prospect disclosed how as a child, he grew up watching Ginebra stars Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand, who inspired him to develop his dribbling skills as a big man.
“Before Jayjay Heltebrand and Caguioa, kahit sentro ako nun yun ang idol ko. Sila ang ginagaya ko saka si Kelly Williams,” added Sangalang.
Aside from the big man from Pampanga who once formed the dreaded `Pinatubo Trio’ of San Sebastian along with Calvin Abueva and Ronald Pascual, other marquee players joining the draft are former Ateneo stars Gregory Slaughter and Nico Salva, and Letran top slotman Raymond Almazan.
Asked if he is ready to play for other teams outside of Ginebra, Sangalang said, “Syempre, kahit saan basta kailangan ako.”
Sangalang has not played high level basketball of late or since his EA Regen team was eliminated in the last PBA D-League Foundation Cup five months ago.
But the cat-quick center assured he is in tip-top shape as he has been practicing with former teammates at NLEX at the 36 Fitness gym.
“Nagpapakundisyon, nagbabawas na ng timbang para pagdating sa PBA, ready na,” said Sangalang, who’s currently in Lubao, Pampanga following the death of his grandmother Filipinas Mendoza last Monday.