It was unfortunate that Magnolia lost Ian Sangalang in the dying seconds of its PBA Philippine Cup slugfest with NorthPort on Friday due to foul trouble.
The 6-foot-7 slotman got booted out with 3.9 ticks left to play after incurring his sixth foul on Kevin Ferrer, who put his side up with an and-one play.
Lady Luck, however, smiled on the Hotshots. Star forward Calvin Abueva capped off a well-executed play by beating the buzzer for the 90-89 win.
The ‘Beast’ may have saved the day for the perennial contenders, but there’s no question that they would not be in such a position had it not been for the big shots provided by their top big man before his exit.
When the Batang Pier regained the lead inside the last three minutes, Sangalang was there to answer back. Before Ferrer’s and-one, Magnolia was ahead thanks to his leaner off a pick-and-roll set with 39.5 seconds left.
The eight-year pro made 26 points, including eight in the final frame alone. He also had 10 rebounds to chalk up his third double-double this season.
The chance to clinch a quarterfinal spot was a primary motivation heading into the Batang Pier game, Sangalang disclosed. Magnolia has now assured itself of such, and is currently at third in the standings with a 7-3 card.
“‘Yung game na ‘to para sa’kin personally, ito ‘yung stepping stone sa amin para makapasok kami ng playoffs; magkaroon kami ng chance sa number one or makuha namin sa three. ‘Yun ‘yung nasa isip ko eh,” he said.
Another thing that pushed the San Sebastian product to such a performance was the challenge of going up against Greg Slaughter. The 7-foot slotman returned to action and had 21 markers and eight boards.
That was definitely good preparation for him for Sunday’s big game. There, he will go up against reigning six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and San Miguel Beer in a battle of title favorites.
“Malaking challenge sa’kin ‘yun, siyempre. Ngayong araw Greg, tapos on Sunday June Mar.
“Naging positive lang ako sa loob ng court kasi no choice naman eh. Sa ayaw at sa gusto mo, kailangan mo talagang depensahan at kailangan mo ring umopensa,” he added.
“So ang ginawa ko sa loob ng court, naging positive lang ako. Tiwala ako sa teammates ko, tiwala ako sa sarili ko, and siyempre tiwala ako sa coaching staff sa kung ano nira-run namin,” he closed.