Ian Sangalang puts Magnolia in a position to win by holding his ground against Fajardo
Ian Sangalang held his own against four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo in Game One. Jerome Ascano

IAN Sangalang wasn’t supposed to be the best big man in the fourth quarter of a PBA Finals game, especially since he was sharing the floor with four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo.

But after his scoring explosion in the payoff period of Game One of the Philippine Cup Finals, there was little doubt the Magnolia big man with the velvety touch around the basket can seize the spotlight when he wants to.

The former NCAA MVP scored 14 points at crunchtime on Friday night, including the final four points to lead Magnolia to a pulsating 105-103 win over a powerhouse San Miguel squad at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Sangalang finished with 29 points on 13-19 shooting, along with nine rebounds and two steals. Though he still fell short of Fajardo’s total output of 31 points and 18 boards, Sangalang never doubted himself that he can face any player that is put in front of him.

“Tina-take ko na lang sa sarili ko na kaya ko. Lalaban ako kahit anong mangyari kasi Finals na kami e,” the 6-foot-7 big man from Lubao, Pampanga said. “Bihira nga makarating sa Finals so nilalagay ko lang sa isip ko, kahit sino kaharap ko diyan kaya ko.”

Sangalang was certainly not lacking in confidence during that final stretch.

With the game tied at 103-all, Sangalang confidently begged for the ball with Fajardo on him and quickly attacked his bigger counterpart. Sangalang baited Fajardo with a fake before getting fouled and draining two free throws which turned out to be the marginal points.

“Binigay na sa akin e. Gagawin ko na lang 'yung best ko. Siguro yung last na yun, ginawa ko lang yung best ko kung anong kaya kong gawin, ayun na-foul,” Sangalang said.

Despite the win, Sangalang said the Hotshots remain the underdogs in this series.

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“Yung team namin, Di mag-gigive up yan. Kahit gaano kalaki lamang ng San Miguel, lalaban kami diyan. Kahit mashootan kami, babalik kami sa opensa namin, tapos didipensa pa rin kami. Kahit alam namin na malakas yung San Miguel, ilalaban namin,” said Sangalang.  

“Underdog kami pero nakatulong sa amin yun, nothing to lose kami, kami maglalaro lang kami. Di kami susuko kahit anong mangyari, kahit lumamang sila. Lalaro lang talaga kami kung anong magagawa namin,” he added. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @CAJacinto11