MANILA, Philippines – After watching Ian Sangalang dissect the Kia Picanto in their PBA Philippine Cup game last Wednesday, veteran Magnolia forward Marc Pingris made a bold declaration.
“Nakikita ko na siya talaga ‘yung susunod na parang Kerby Raymundo, parang Marc Pingris, parang Alvin Patrimonio,” Pingris told reporters after the Hotshots completed a 124-77 demolition of the Picanto.
Sangalang was named Player of the Game on Wednesday, after he hung 21 points and nine rebounds against Kia. Over the first three games, the former San Sebastian big man is averaging a double-double of 19.7 points and 10 rebounds per game.
The Magnolia franchise took Sangalang with the second pick of the 2013 PBA rookie draft, the same class that produced Greg Slaughter, Raymond Almazan, and Terrence Romeo. Since then, he has been solid but rarely spectacular for the Hotshots; Sangalang has yet to average double-digits in scoring for an entire season, and missed their entire 2014-2015 campaign due to a knee injury.
In the current Philippine Cup, however, the 26-year-old Sangalang has been superb. He had 13 points and 10 rebounds in a conference-opening win against Alaska, then had 25 points and 11 rebounds in a Christmas Day loss to Ginebra.
“Sobrang step up siya every game,” Pingris said of Sangalang. “Siguro pag nag-retire na kami, alam ko na siya na yung hahawak.”
Pingris added that he tries to mentor all of the Magnolia big men, but he has paid special attention to Sangalang.
“Mas puntirya ko talaga si Ian, kasi nakikita ko na ang laki na ini-improve niya every game, every practice,” he explained.
Pingris was not the only Magnolia veteran who was impressed with Sangalang. Paul Lee also commended the big man for his performance.
“Si Ian, he’s always ready,” said Lee, who sparked Magnolia’s rout of Kia with a 13-point outburst in the third quarter.
“Maganda ‘yung nilalaro niya lagi,” added Lee. “Tsaka nag-e-extra (work) naman siya eh. Talagang sacrifice siya sa practice, kaya maganda ‘yung kinakalabasan dito sa game.”
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