BIG man Ian Sangalang admitted being pressured to deliver in his second match-up with fellow rookie Greg Slaughter this season, but was nonetheless gratified to see San Mig Super Coffee topple Barangay Ginebra in their Sunday showdown in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup.
Sangalang only finished with four points, eight rebounds, and a steal in the Mixers’ stunning 83-79 win over the league-leading Kings before an overflow crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena and was roundly dominated by the 6-11 Slaughter in the second half.
They Said It!
“ Dalawang sunod na game nga akong nag-struggle. Sa Ginebra kagabi at saka sa Rain or Shine. May nararamdaman kasi akong pressure eh." - 2013 No.2 PBA Rookie Draft overall pick Ian Sangalang
“Basta manalo kahit ganun laro ko, okay sa akin. Basta’t nanalo,” added Sangalang, selected No. 2 overall behind Slaughter in last year’s Rookie Draft.
The former NCAA Most Valuable Player out of San Sebastian said he really felt pressure to come through with his breakout game in the pro league, with the all-Filipino conference almost in its homestretch.
Worse he was also outshone by another freshman Raymond Almazan, the third pick overall in the draft, in San Mig's previous loss to Rain or Shine.
“Oo, dalawang sunod na game nga akong nag-struggle. Sa Ginebra kagabi at saka sa Rain or Shine. May nararamdaman kasi akong pressure eh,” Sangalang told Spin.ph a day after the win over the Kings.
“Alam ko kasi na inaasahan ako. Tapos ayun, gusto kong magpakita. May gigil tuloy ako,” he added. “Basta next game babawi na lang ako.”
Through 11 games with the Mixers this season, Sangalang averages 10.27 points and 6.36 rebounds.
The 6-foot-7 center said his early struggle definitely has nothing to do with the complex triangle offense which coach Tim Cone has been implementing at San Mig.
“Ok naman ako sa triangle. Hindi naman ako nangangapa. Talaga sigurong timing lang sa sarili ko saka sa mga set screens namin,” said the pride of Lubao, Pampanga.
Asked if he feels uncomfortable over the lack of plays designed for him unlike in his amateur days, Sangalang said he doesn’t mind it.
“Lahat naman kami walang play eh. Sa triangle kasi kung sino ma-o-open, `yun ang ikot ng play. Walang play-play kung kanino,” he responded.
But definitely his below-par performance has been bothering him.
“Siyempre hindi ako kuntento. Ang baba ng laro ko eh. Pero hindi ko na iniisip yun. Kasi tulad kagabi, panalo naman kami,” said the agile, 23-year-old big man. “Siguro kung natalo kami kagabi, tapos ang baba ng laro ko na ganun, baka sinumpa ko talaga sarili ko.”
Asked about his thoughts on the dominant performance of the 6-foot-11 Slaughter so far, Sangalang said without any hesitation how happy he is for his former teammate at NLEX in the PBA D-League.
“Masaya ako para sa kanya, kasi laking tulong niya sa team. Sana magpatuloy yung ganung game niya,” he said.
“Ako naman, wala sa akin `yung habulin siya sa stats o kung saan man. Basta ako nakakatulong sa team, tapos nananalo kami, kuntento na ko. Saka hindi ko kailangang maghabol, may second at third conferences pa naman,” said the player who won MVP titles in the NCAA, D-League, and the PCCL.