PUREFOODS has lost two conference jewels and is desperate to keep the only championship remaining from its historic grand slam season.
But here's more bad news.
Ian Sangalang, the rising star who played a big role in Purefoods' triple crown campaign last year, has abandoned his bid to make a comeback this season to make sure he'll be 100 percent ready once he returns.
The former NCAA MVP tore an ACL and MCL in his left knee right in the team's season debut but had hoped to make a comeback in the season-ending Governors Cup after a long rehabilitation process.
However, that plan has been ditched, Sangalang cofirmed to Spin.ph on Thursday night.
“Hindi na muna ako siguro tutuloy (sa third conference). Baka sa all-Filipino (Philippine Cup na ko bumalik), para ma-sure lang (yung recovery ko),” said the second overall pick of the 2013 PBA rookie draft.
Sangalang explained that he doesn't want to rush his return and prefers to be absolutely sure that he's ready when he finally makes a comeback.
“Hindi ko na muna ira-rush, hayaan ko na muna matapos 'yung season. Papalagpasin ko na muna 'yung third conference. Gusto ko lang na hundred percent ako pagbabalik ko, 'yung walang iniisip,” he added.
“Mahaba ang break after ng Governors cup at bago mag all-Filipino, so mahaba ang time ko para makapag-ready at makapag tono ng kundisyon,” said the jewel in Pampanga Vice Governor Dennis Pineda's stable of players.
Sangalang bared that though he can now walk and run without any pain, he doesn't feel the knee is ready to take the daily pounding in pro league games.
He also admitted getting frustrated not being able to help the Hotshots this season.
“Nafa-frustrate rin ako pagnakikita ko teammates ko nagi–struggle, syempre apektado rin ako. Pero ayaw ko naman na mauulit. Kasi andito na ko, kaunting panahon na lang. naghirap na rin ako,” Sangalang said.
The former San Sebastian star bared coach Tim Cone supported his decision, which was taken on the advice of therapists and doctors.
“Okay naman kay coach Tim 'yun. Ayaw niya na mapahamak at mahirapan 'yung player,” he said.
Cone, for his part, said Sangalang is too important to the franchise's future to risk a relapse with an early return from knee surgery.
“Ian is too important to our future for us to rush back into the lineup," said Cone. "We want to make sure he is totally healed so (it) will take a little longer with him than usual."
As he endures the long rehab process. Sangalang bared he has developed a deeper bond with God.
“Mas naging mapagdasal ako. Hindi ko ginamit yung injury at frustrations ko para magalit sa Kanya. Nagpapasalamat ako kay God kasi alam ko mas marami pa ring magagandang nagyari sa buhay ko dahil sa Kanya,” said the agile wingman.