NEWS that his mentor Tim Cone is one of the frontrunners to be the next Gilas Pilipinas coach has only added to the frustrations of injured Purefoods Star big man Ian Sangalang.
The agile 6-5 forward from Lubao, Pampanga believes that had he not been injured in his first game of the PBA season, he would've done everything to get a shot at a Gilas place if and when Cone is named coach.
“Sayang nga. Nararamdaman ko rin kasi na maari niya akong isama - kung siya nga ang mapipili ha. Kaso heto, injured ako. Masakit talaga para sa akin. Mas nadagdagan frustrations ko,” Sangalang told Spin.ph.
“Kaso wala naman na akong magagawa. Mas kailangan ko na lang asikasuhin paggaling ko muna para makabalik agad kesa i-entertain ko pa ang ibang problema na alam kong wala naman akong solusyon,” he added in a gloomy tone.
Sangalang underwent a 30-minute surgery on his right knee on Monday afternoon to repair a torn ACL and two damaged meniscuses, which will require him to rest and undergo rehabilitation for six to eight months.
Assuming he recovers by July, Sangalang knows he will not be in the shape needed to be considered for the Gilas team that will compete in the 2015 Fiba Asia Championships in China which is tentatively set on September 1.
That is a heartbreaking thought for the discovery of Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda, playing for the national team having been Sangalang's childhood dream.
“Noon ko pa talaga gusto maglaro para sa Gilas. Alam ko na iba ang pakiramdam 'pag pangalan na ng bansa ang suot at 'yun ang isa sa dahilan kung bakit ako nagsikap maglaro ng basketball,” he said.
Asked how he felt after Cone offered the whole Purefoods team for consideration for the Gilas lineup, Sangalang said he was even more disappointed.
“YUn nga eh. Ang sarap sana 'nun, kasi gamay ko na ang coach, tapos pati ang sistema kabisado ko na. Triangle. Masakit talaga para sa akin ang nangyari. Ang sama ng timing ng injury ko,” he said.
The hardworking slotman was given an invitation to join the Gilas cadet pool in December 2012, but he opted to beg off as he was already preparing to join the 2013 draft, where he was picked second overall by Purefoods.
As for his surgery, Sangalang said: “Maayos naman yung naging operasyon sa akin. Ang bilis nga. Tapos pagkatapos ko, sinabi agad ni Doc (Raul) Canlas na OK na,” he said.
The former San Sebastian King Stag is set to return to Dr. Canlas’ clinic on Thursday for further evaluation.
“Dun ko pa lang malalaman kung kelan ako maaring bumalik. Dun niya i-a-assess. Sana makabalik ako agad. Ayaw ko ng ganito,” said Sangalang of the worst injury of his career.