Ian Sangalang thrilled to reunite with longtime pal Calvin Abueva in Gilas pool
Ian Sangalang will join longtime teammate Calvin Abueva in the Gilas pool which begins its buildup for the Olympic wildcard qualifier with a practice on Monday night. Jaime Campos

OTHER than wearing the national colors anew, there’s one more compelling reason why Ian Sangalang is thrilled to join the Gilas Pilipinas national pool in its first practice session together on Monday.

The national team stint meant being reunited with longtime pal and college teammate Calvin Abueva, with whom he won an NCAA championship with San Sebastian in 2009 - where together with Ronald Pascual they became known as the 'Pinatubo trio' - and a couple of titles with NLEX in the PBA D-League.

“Sobrang saya kasi Calvin Abueva since college, since Pampanga nakakasama ko na. Tapos ngayon eto naman sa national team,” he said.

The Star Hotshots’ third year big man said he’ll definitely attend the first get-together among the 17 members of the latest batch of Gilas training pool on Monday night at the Meralco gym after being picked by coach Tab Baldwin.

Abueva is also in the lineup following his sterling performance with Gilas 3.0 in the recent Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China, playing a key role in the team’s runner-up finish to champion China.

[See Gilas comeback for June Mar Fajardo]

Meanwhile, this will be Sangalang’s second time to become part of the national team, although first as part of the men’s side. He first wore the country’s tricolors in 2008 as part of the PH U18 squad under coach Franz Pumaren.

And despite coming off an injured-hit season last year with Star, the 6-foot-6 former NCAA MVP said he’s more than willing to play for flag and country.

“It’s an honor na mapasama sa national team kahit na training pa lang,” he said. “Anytime naman, ready ako.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos