ON the night he made his debut for San Mig Coffee, Ian Sangalang unexpectedly felt the love of rival fans from Barangay Ginebra.
The San Mig rookie from Pampanga admitted he was surprised to be spared by Ginebra's rowdy boo boys during the PBA's first match of the new season which the Gin Kings won, 86-68.
“Oo nga eh, nagulat din ako kasi siyempre normal sa fans na i-boo nila ang karibal… lalo na ako, naging aggressive ako sa game (for San Mig),” said the former NCAA MVP.
They Said It!
“Siguro natutuwa sila sa akin, kasi dati nila akong kabarangay,” he said. “Ilang beses ako nag free throw … wala akong nadinig (na boo)." - San Mig Coffee rookie Ian Sangalang, a self-proclaimed Barangay Ginebra fan
Sangalang, though, is considered a 'kabarangay' by Ginebra fans, having been a fan of the team since childhood while expressing his wish to play for the team in the weeks leading up to the rookie draft.
“Siguro natutuwa sila sa akin, kasi dati nila akong kabarangay,” he said. “Ilang beses ako nag free throw … wala akong nadinig (na boo).”
Diehard Ginebra fans said they feel a sense of kinship with the former San Sebastian King Stag, even after he ended up at San Mig as the No. 2 pick overall in the draft behind Ginebra's own Greg Slaughter.
“Kahit po sa iba siya napunta… (kahit) sa team na hate na hate namin, love po namin si Ian,” said Kaye Cabal, moderator of Barangay Ginebra’s largest Twitter fan account.
“Kaya yung pagpirma niya ng two years (sa San Mig instead of the three-year deal offered by the team), nabuhayan ako ng pag-asa … sana nga po,” she added in a chat with Spin.ph.
Twitterdom was also flooded with messages expressing Ginebra fans’ support for Sangalang.
On the other hand, Sangalang said he is hopeful San Mig fans will understand his situation and vows to give the team no reason to doubt where his loyalty lies.
“Thankful ako kasi naiintindihan ng mga fans ng San Mig na gaya ng lahat ng player, may team na sinundan at pinaborito ako nung bata ka," Sangalang said.
"Nagkataon hindi dito yun, pero hindi nila (San Mig fans) makukwestyon ang loyalty ko. Dahil ibibigay ko 100 percent ko,” he added.