ROOKIE Ian Sangalang doesn’t expect a warm welcome from former collegiate teammate Calvin Abueva when he finally makes his long-awaited PBA debut.
The 6-foot-5 big man of San Mig Coffee said he sees a healthy but brewing competition between him and Abueva, considering both of them will play the same position as pros.
“Matagal ko na kasama yang si Calvin. Kapag nakalaban ko na siya, laro lang,” said the year’s No. 2 overall draft pick. “Basta sa loob ng court, magkalaban kami.”
The two were teammates with San Sebastian, where they won together an NCAA championship and formed two-thirds of the dreaded `Pinatubo Trio’ along with Gilas cadet member Ronald Pascual.
But all that changes from here on.
“Eh alam mo naman si Calvin, walang kaibi-kaibigan kay Calvin. Eh ganun din ang gagawin ko,” said Sangalang, a former NCAA Most Valuable Player.
Abueva though has some words of wisdom for his former teammate after having gone through a tough rookie season that saw him figure in physical skirmishes with some of the league’s top stars.
“Humble lang siya (Sangalang) saka ipakita niya `yung strength niya, kung saan siya malakas,” said Abueva, winner of last season’s Rookie of the Year award.
The sophomore forward of Alaska believes Sangalang is already ripe for the PBA, having seen how his game has matured from their days with the Stags and later on with NLEX in the D-League.
“Pero malaki 'rin improvement niya nung makasama ko siya. Sigurado ko, papakita na siya ng lakas kasi kahit nung game namin against San Beda at Letran, talagang makita mo nakipag-pisikalan na siya,” he added.
Shortly after the Stags lost to Letran in last season’s Final Four, Abueva opted to turn pro and was picked No. 2 overall by the Aces in last year’s draft.
With Abueva sliding back to his old spot at power forward, he vowed to play with more aggressiveness and hustle regardless of who he faces.
“Sa All-Filipino siyempre, marami ngayong big men, lalo na ngayon na maraming rookies, sisipagan ko pa rin `yung hustle at aggressiveness. Kumportable ako sa four (power forward) ngayon kasi all-Filipino, kaya naman,” he said.