Ian Sangalang is simply thankful for another opportunity to play the game after being filled with doubts about his future due to a thyroid problem.
The Magnolia big man admitted that his career was the very first thing he thought of upon receiving word from the doctor regarding his health condition, which forced him to sit out the entire 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup.
“Sobra. Nagkaroon talaga ako ng doubt,” Sangalang said moments after Magnolia’s 117-83 victory over Blackwater for a dominant start to its PBA On Tour campaign, Sunday night at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Sangalang has already been cleared by the doctors to take part in full-contact practices just last month and has since been working on his conditioning as he aims to play with the Hotshots in the ongoing preseason tournament.
The 31-year-old is now looking better than he did back in January, which was his last taste of basketball before discovering his situation.
He played in Magnolia’s Governors’ Cup opener versus Converge last January 29 in Antipolo, although it was in their Commissioner’s Cup semifinal duel against eventual champions Ginebra where he started feeling weak.
“‘Yung time na ‘yun, nagrereklamo ako sa mga PT namin, sa mga trainer namin. Si Coach Chito [Victolero] kinakausap ako na mag-step up nung semis, sabi ko, ‘Coach binibigay ko naman lahat e, pero yung katawan ko, parang ayaw’,” said Sangalang, who averaged just six points in the said semis as his minutes dwindled during the course of the best-of-5 series that ended in four.
“Pagdating ng halftime, parang gusto ko na umupo, gusto ko na magpahinga.”
Sangalang eventually learned about his condition following a checkup, which explained why he appeared to have lost weight back in January.
“Sabi sa’min ng doktor, ‘yung thyroid na ‘to, kahit tulog ka, daig mo pa yung nag-basketball. Gumagalaw buong katawan mo,” he said. “‘Yung cells mo, tinatarget lahat ng muscle mo. So ‘pag nag-praktis ka, parang triple (pagod).
“Sabi niya nga kung tumatakbo ka ng 80 sa NLEX, ikaw 200 takbo mo. Ganun daw yung sa thyroid kasi tinatarget lahat ng cells, kaya wala akong muscle,” he added.
“Nung January kung nakita niyo ‘ko, nung naglaro ako, parang lahat nahalata na sobrang payat ko. ‘Yun na ‘yung parang triple ‘yung pagod ko kasi nageextra pa ko sa practice, ‘yun pala hindi na kailangan. Kailangan anuhin thyroid ko.”
Sangalang was then given three treatment options for his illness and ultimately chose radioactive iodine therapy (RAI) for better efficiency.
“So since pinili ko yung RAI, sabi ng doctor meron namang gumagaling nito ng one month, depende sa katawan mo. Pero kung ano, three months. Pero ayaw niya pa rin magsalita, ayaw niya pa rin magbigay ng ano na gagaling talaga.
“Nakuha namin ‘yun ng one month tapos after ng one month, nanigurado lang kami na wala na. Unang check up, very good. Pangalawa binigyan na ako ng clearance na makabalik sa practice,” Sangalang said proudly.
Now, the Kapampangan star is set to play sooner than expected, and he couldn’t be more thankful to have overcome one of his toughest battles.
“Good thing walang nangyaring masama sabi ng doktor, naagapan kaagad. Now, thank God, OK na ako,” said the 10-year veteran.
“Ang sarap sa feeling kasi last time, ang hirap nung nasa bahay lang ako, ‘di ako makatulong, dami kong iniisip, siyempre ‘yun nga, kung magiging okay ako,” he added.
“At least nalampasan ko ‘yung pagsubok.”