EVEN though he’ll be up against his favorite team in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, San Mig rookie Ian Sangalang quickly eased fears he won't be fully committed to the task of bringing down Barangay Ginebra at the start of their best-of-seven series on Tuesday.
“Sobrang masaya ako pero focus lang sa game kahit Ginebra iyan. Basta pusong San Mig ako,” said the former NCAA MVP after providing quality minutes in San Mig’s knockout match against Talk `N Text Sunday night, which the Mixers won, 90-82, to clinch the last berth in the Final Four.
It’s no secret that long before he joined the pro league, the freshman forward was an avid Ginebra fan and how he desired to play for the PBA’s most popular ballcub.
But the opportunity to wear a Ginebra uniform escaped him when the Kings opted to choose 6-foot-11 former Ateneo slotman Greg Slaughter with the No. 1 pick in last year’s rookie draft. The 6-foot-5 Sangalang ended up as the No. 2 selection overall of San Mig.
Still, facing the Kings in a semifinals series is already a high for the former San Sebastian star, who is happy to go this far in only his first conference as a pro.
“Masaya ako dahil unang pasok ko sa PBA, pumasok ako ng semis. Sobrang dami ng blessings,” added the Pampanga-born big man, who scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in the Mixers’ Game Three victory that formally ended the three-year reign of the Tropang Texters as all-Filipino Cup champions.
Although Ginebra features a towering frontcourt behind Slaughter, high-leaping forward Japeth Aguilar, and veteran big man Jay-R Reyes, Sangalang remains confident San Mig is capable of beating the odds.
“Kaya namin 'yan (Ginebra) basta prepared lang kami. Iyung prepared na di ka takot,” said the 22-year-old rookie.
Sangalang hopes to be able to contribute more as he works side by side with San Mig’s veteran big men led by Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis, and Yancy de Ocampo in the semis.