IAN Sangalang may only be in his rookie season in the PBA, but for San Mig coach Tim Cone, the freshman center out of San Sebastian is definitely playing like a battle-scarred veteran.
“When we first got him, it’s like I’m coaching a 35-year-old. He doesn’t play like a 22-year-old. His mind, his game, and everything,” said Cone of the player the Mixers picked at No. 2 overall in last year’s rookei draft.
“I never doubted his ability.”
Sangalang’s ability was in full display during the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup Finals especially in the title-clinching Game Six on Wednesday night when he finished as the second leading scorer in San Mig’s 93-87 victory over Rain or Shine.
The rookie big man from Pampanga finished with 15 points, including seven in a key fourth-quarter run which San Mig used as catalyst to finish off the Elasto Painters and win the 11th championship in franchise history.
Only the splendid endgame performance of Mark Barroca overshadowed the heroics of Sangalang, who bravely held the fort for the Mixers early in the fourth that allowed the team to regain the lead after trailing, 66-67, entering the final quarter.
Barroca, who nailed one clutch shot after the other in the stretch run, finished with 24 points and was adjudged the PBA Press Corps-Papa John’s Pizza Finals MVP.
But not lost on Cone was the valiant effort of Sangalang, who won his first pro league title right in his first PBA conference.
“That stretch when we took seven or nine-point leads, we were trying hard on our interior offense… We were playing three bigs at that time. And Ian took advantage of the switches,” said Cone.