IF Dennis Pineda would have his way, he wants his ward Ian Sangalang to strut on court wearing Barangay Ginebra's red-and-white jersey as soon as possible.
With an eye set on a future career for Sangalang with the popular Kings in the PBA, his longtime manager has advised the San Sebastian star to forego the tryouts for the Smart Gilas 2.0 team bound for two tournaments overseas next month.
“Ngayon kasi ang magandang chance ni Ian para lumaro sa Ginebra,” said Pineda, the former mayor of Lubao, Pampanga and son of governor Lilia who has also guided the careers of other top players like Calvin Abueva and Arwind Santos.
Ginebra owns Air21's first-round pick next year which, given the way things are going this season, could prove valuable in the next draft which Sangalang and former Ateneo slotman Greg Slaughter are expected to head.
Sought for comment on Pineda's statements, current PBA chairman and Ginebra board representative Robert Non said: "Kung matatapat sa amin, kukunin namin. Gusto namin yan.”
Buoyed by the sensational debut of Abueva with Alaska, Pineda said he wants the 6-7 Sangalang to have the same success in the pro ranks - preferably with the league's most popular ballclub.
“Tingin ko kasi, bukod sa mabilis na sisikat si Ian sa Ginebra mabibigyan siya doon (sa Ginebra) ng magandang playing time katulad ni Calvin sa Alaska,” said the soft-spoken Pineda.
Pineda, who is running for Pampanga vice governor next year, believes Sangalang is not only ready for the pros but may just be the missing piece of the Ginebra puzzle.
“Pakiramdam ko ready na siya sa pro," he said of the reinging NCAA MVP. "Saka gusto ko kasing makita 'yung mga players ko na nakikipagsabayan sa mga sikat na players ng bansa.”