IAN Sangalang shot down speculations over his absence from Gilas Pilipinas practices, saying it’s his slow recovery from knee injury that’s keeping him off the national team and not his Star Hotshots ballclub.
Sangalang bared that up to now, his knee has yet to fully recover after surgery to repair tears on an ACL (arterior cruciate ligament) and MCL lforced him to miss all but one game last season.
“Hindi pa rin kasi siya pwede sagarin (sa ensayo at laro), kasi may mga time na namamaga pa rin siya lalo na kung bugbog sa ensayo,” said Sangalang, who has yet to play his usual minutes with the Star Hotshots as he only averaged 23 minutes in the team's first 10 games.
“Nakakalaro ako pero pacing pacing pa rin. Hindi ko pwede isuba agad sa todong laro eh. Alam niyo naman kung gaano kaselan ang injury ko, tuhod ito," he added.
Star had nothing to do whatsoever with his decision to miss Gilas practice, Sangalang swore.
“Walang ganun. All out nga sila e. Talagang si doc (orthopedic surgeon Raul) Canlas ang nag-advice sa akin na huwag muna kong sumalang sa ensayo," the agile 6-7 forward from Lubao, Pampanga said.
Sangalang has so far joined only one of the practice sessions of Gilas, and that was during the first ever meeting of the team on November 10 to start preparing for the coming Fiba Olympic qualifer wildcard next year.
The soft-spoken former NCAA MVP knows no specific timeline for his ‘regulated’ training, adding it frustrates him not to be able to be on the court with fellow members of the Gilas training pool.
“Hindi ko alam eh. Nalulungkot nga ako kasi gusto kong lumaro sa national team. Yung kababata ko (Calvin Abueva), andun na. Nakilala na siya sa international basketball, kaya gusto ko rin sanang magpakita ng kakayahan ko,” said Sangalang.
“Saka alam ko na kailangan din ako ngayon lalo’t may injury rin si Ranidel (De Ocampo), kaso hindi ko pupwedeng madaliin eh. Iba ang level ng laro sa international, di ka pwedeng magpa-petiks-petiks,” he added.
So far, Sangalang has not yet fully decided on his status with Gilas pending his meeting with national coach Tab Baldwin, who picked him for the 17-man national team pool despite coming off a one-year injury layoff.
“Hindi pa kami nakakapagusap ni Coach Tab eh. Pero sila sir Butch (Antonio, Gilas team manager), nakakausap ko lagi," he said.
Even his discoverer, Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda, is said to be eagerly awaiting his status with Gilas.
“Yun pa nga ang isa, kahit si Vice gusto rin akong lumaro sa national team lalo’t naging proud siya na andun si Calvin, tapos andun rin ako,” he added, shaking his head.