IAN SANGALANG showed up on Saturday to formally accept the NCAA seniors MVP award, a consolation for the San Sebastian slotman after the fancied Stags failed in their mission to at least get to the Finals.
It was a bittersweet moment for the 20-year-old Lubao, Pampanga native, who had earlier expressed he didn’t feel like receiving the award after the Stags were eliminated by Letran in the Final Four.
“Parang ayaw ko na pumunta para kunin yung award,” a dejected Sangalang said after the Stags’ 70-73 loss to the Knights in the sudden-death matchup.
The 6-foot-6 Sangalang actually finished second in the statistical race to his more celebrated teammate Calvin Abueva after ending the elimination round with averages of 19.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 1.1 steals,
But Sangalang ended up winning the top individual plum after Abueva was disqualified for committing a disqualifying foul in the Stags’ 83-75 second-round win over Lyceum.
The newly-crowned MVP will enter next season without Abueva and the third member of the Stags’ 'Pinatubo Trio,' Ronald Pascual.
“Sobrang hirap next year, pero i-expect niyo na magtatrabaho pa rin kami,” said Sangalang.
Sangalang led the mythical team that also had Letran’s Kevin Alas, San Beda’s Jake Pascual, Emilio Aguinaldo College’s Cedric Happi Noube, and University of Perpetual Help’s Earl Thompson.
Thompson, the sophomore swingman from Digos City, was also crowned the league’s Most Improved Player after moving 50 spots up to No. 6 in this year’s player rankings, while Cameroonian Happi Noube was adjudged Rookie of the Year.
Raymond Almazan, the Knights’ prized 6-foot-7 center, was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year.