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    First it was Slaughter, then Belga, now Fajardo. Giant tasks bring out best in Sangalang

    May 2, 2019
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    FROM Greg Slaughter in the first round, Beau Belga in the semis, and now June Mar Fajardo in the finals.

    It's a tough task being matched up against such giants, but Ian Sangalang says he's ready to take on all comers.

    "Masarap maglaro ng ganito, 'yung mga nakakalaban mo, magagaling. Siyempre nakaka-challenge," he said. "Once na ganito ang mga kalaban mo, nai-express ko kung paano ako maglaro. Naibibigay ko yung best ko."

    Sangalang and Magnolia put away Slaughter's Ginebra in the first round of the playoffs and overcame Belga and Rain or Shine in a fiecely fought best-of-seven semifinal that went the distance.

    But now he's up against the best.

    Battling Fajardo in Game One of the PBA Philippine Cup finals, the 6-foot-7 Sangalang showed he's one of the best big men in the league today after guiding Magnolia to a 99-94 win on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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    Sangalang finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and scored four of the Hotshots' last six points to help clinch the victory.

    Fajardo had the better numbers of 35 points and 21 rebounds, but Sangalang had the last laugh.

    "Challenged talaga ako, gusto ko talagang manalo," the

    "Gusto kong matapatan kung ano meron sila ngayon. Parang gusto ko rin na magkaroon ng ganun," added Sangalang, who is seeking a first-ever all-Filipino championship.

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    On guarding five-time MVP Fajardo, Sangalang described it as 'sobrang bigat, sobrang hirap.'

    But despite going up against the best, Sangalang feels the Hotshots have a very good chance of ending Fajardo and the Beermen's four-year reign as Philippine Cup champions.

    As long as they believed.

    "Lagi kong sinasabi na kaya naming mag-champion, na kaya naming talunin sila," the former San Sebastian star said.

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    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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