SMART Gilas 2.0 shouldn’t expect Ian Sangalang to show up in any of its practices.
In an exclusive interview with Spin.ph on Monday, the agile big man from Pampanga and reigning NCAA MVP said he is passing up the chance to join the Gilas pool on the advice of his manager, Dennis Pineda, who wants him to focus on his future career in the pro league.
Sangalang was one of nine collegiate standouts from the Gilas cadet pool invited by national coach Chot Reyes to join the team's practices as it prepares for tournaments in Dubai and Hong Kong early next month.
“Mag eensayo na sana ako nung (December 21) kaso sabi ng manager ko, stay put lang muna ako. Kasi may plano raw siya sa akin!”, said the soft-spoken San Sebastian star. “Hindi ko naman kinontra yung boss ko, kasi siya rin naman ang reason kung bakit nandito ako.”
Sangalang said he has utmost trust in Pineda, the former mayor of Lubao, Pampanga who has taken the 6-7 center and several other players from Pampanga like Calvin Abueva, long before they made a name for themselves in the big leagues.
“Medyo nalungkot din ako kasi gusto ko din mag national player, pero ganito rin pinagdaanan ko nun. Dati may offer sa akin La Salle, pero sabi ng boss ko, Baste raw ako. Hindi ko rin siguro nakuha kumpiyansa kong ganito kung hindi ako sumunod sa kanya!”
In a separate interview, Pineda, son of Pampanga governor Lilia, confirmed that he has advised Sangalang to focus on a future career in the pros.
Sangalang declared that he is now "80 percent sure" of joining the 2013 PBA draft in August where he is seen as a hands-down Top Three pick.
“Kung ngayon ang filing ng application, magpapa-draft na talaga ako. Pero depende pa rin kapag nagbago isip o plano ko by July,” said Sangalang, who is eager to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Abueva.
“Natutuwa talaga si boss sa ipinapakita ni Calvin sa PBA, pati si Arwind (Santos). Kaya siguro gusto niya mas marami pang players ang mapasikat sa liga,” said Sangalang of Pineda, who is seeking to inherit the Pampanga vice governership from another PBA icon, Yeng Guiao, in next year's elections.
Aside from Sangalang, another Gilas invitee who has not shown up for the practices is Ateneo star Nico Salva.