Ian Sangalang surprisingly came off the bench for the Magnolia Hotshots in Game Three of the 2018 Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday night. And for him, not being a starter was the major reason behind his lowly outing.
After averaging 20.0 points and 7.0 rebounds over the San Miguel Beermen in the series’ first two games, the 6-foot-7 slotman played uncharacteristically, providing just six points on 2-of-10 shooting along with five boards.
“Yun nga, siyempre, ‘di ako nag-start ng game. Pagpasok ko medyo bad start ako. Ayun, siguro na-down ako ng konti,” lamented Sangalang.
“Parang… ‘Di ko alam yung mafi-feel ko kanina sa game kung ano gagawin ko.”
Head coach Chito Victolero placed Kyle Pascual over Sangalang in the first five, in a move many thought had been done by the tactician for defensive purpose,s as they aimed to slow down San Miguel main man June Mar Fajardo.
They succeeded at first, but that did not translate to the desired outcome. The reigning Most Valuable Player still had 21 markers and 17 caroms, and the Beermen — thanks also to their second unit — rolled to a 111-87 victory for a 2-1 lead.
Asked if performing the tedious task of defending the Kraken had worn him down and led to his poor offensive showing, Sangalang conceded in a way.
“Siyempre, yun nga, mahirap na trabaho kasi siyempre June Mar e, todo-bigay ka sa depensa eh,” said the 26-year-old. “Siguro one thing na pwede maubos ka, mapapagod ka.
“Pero okay ako, kasi napapagod ko din si June Mar eh.”
Despite Sangalang’s series-low, however, Victolero still trusts his center, remaining confident that the Kapampangan star will redeem himself next game. “I think medyo malas lang si Ian, but he will bounce back,” he said.
“He will bounce back.”
And for the cager out of San Sebastian, Game Four on Wednesday, April 4 is something they can’t afford to lose, as a loss will only help the Beermen inch that much closer to attaining a historic fourth straight All-Filipino crown.
“Medyo pressured kami, pero kailangan naming manalo the next game,” said the five-year league veteran.
“‘Di kami puwedeng ma-down ng 3-1 so titignan namin kung ano ang puwede naming gawin para manalo kami.”