Ian Sangalang made it easier to deal with life without Marc Pingris for the Magnolia Hotshots, as he put out a masterful performance in Wednesday’s Game Three of their 2018 Philippine Cup semifinals with the NLEX Road Warriors.
The 6-foot-7 slotman stepped up big time for the depleted Magnolia, firing 24 points on 67 percent shooting from the floor with seven rebounds, to help the Hotshots to a 106-99 win and gain a 2-1 cushion in the best-of-seven series.
“Thankful ako na nag-step up yung guards, and yung big men nag-step up din this game, especially Ian,” lauded Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.
For the 26-year-old, his outing is dedicated to the injured Pingris, who has been serving as one of his mentors in the team ever since Sangalang set foot in the pro league back in 2013, where he was the second overall pick.
“Unang-una binibigay ko ‘tong game kay Kuya Ping,” said the Pampang native after the match at SMART Araneta Coliseum. “Siya lang iniisip ko kapag ganong situations.
“Iniisip ko mga tinuro ni Kuya Ping. Ginagawa ko lang best ko.”
And one of the lessons taught to him by the Gilas Pilipinas legend was staying composed. In Game Three, Sangalang had a tough night courtesy of NLEX’s Michael Miranda — his college teammate in San Sebastian.
“Kilala naman natin si Michael, gagawin niya best niya para mapikon ako,” Sangalang pointed out, as the 6-foot-6 Miranda was able to acquire two offensive fouls from him in a span of 34 seconds in the third chapter.
“Pero alam ko naman gagawin niya. So stay focused lang ako sa game. So nakuha ko game ko nung bandang huli.”
The momentum has apparently shifted to the Hotshots’ side, and this could be the turning point of the series. Sangalang, however, doesn’t want to believe so yet, as he is wary of the Road Warriors’ ability to bounce back.
“Hindi siguro. Hindi pa kasi tapos yung series,” warned Sangalang, who is averaging 21.0 markers and 8.0 caroms so far in the series. “So kailangan mas kuhain namin next game kasi alam namin na babalik ang NLEX.
“Kami, mas magiging ready lang kami.”