One of Jeremiah Pangalangan’s aspirations was to play in the UAAP. So when De La Salle University came knocking at his door, the 6-foot-9 center did not hesitate and went.
The cager from Pampanga arrived at Taft Avenue in 2016. That time, the Green Archers were dreaded in the collegiate scene, especially with a frontline that featured Justine Baltazar, Abu Tratter, and, of course, two-time UAAP MVP Ben Mbala.
Pangalangan, meanwhile, was just in the shadows.
And he, unfortunately, stayed behind for two long years.
“I was there 2016 pa. Nothing happened to me. They had Mbala, Abu Tratter, Baltazar, all of the big guys. But I understood that,” Pangalangan recalled.
“‘Pag sinama mo pa yung career ko, walang mangyayari sa akin.”
Though he understood, Pangalangan decided to move on from La Salle and looked for other schools where he can play and of course show his talent. He wanted to play for another UAAP team, but a chance did not show up.
Pangalangan eventually found a school. It was College of St. Benilde — literally just a few steps away from sister school La Salle. When the opportunity showed up, he immediately grabbed it.
“CSB ang nagbigay ng opportunity sa akin na makapaglaro. Ayokong sayangin ito eh. Alam ko sila coach TY [Tang] malaki ang tiwala nila sa akin since pumunta ako,” said Pangalangan, who’s now 20 years old.
“May choice akong iba. Deep inside ang gusto ko UAAP, but in God’s plan, gusto Niya yung Benilde para sa akin — dito talaga yung future ko kaya ‘di na ako nag-hesitate,” the native of Pamapanga, who had a year of residency in CSB, added.
But tough challenges have already gone in the way of Pangalangan in his stay with the Blazers.
“The last few months I had a few injuries, partial MCL and ACL. So it’s a tough year for me kasi last year when we’re having a break, I had an injury in my knee too,” he said.
“Parang it’s hard for me to bounce back and it keeps me down.”
CSB is currently playing in the 2019 PBA D-League carrying the Go for Gold Scratchers banner, and Pangalangan has shown flashes of his potential — he had 13 points and three boards in their 102-87 win over Batangas-EAC last April 4.
But Pangalangan said that he has yet to reach his best form possible, especially with his dreams for the school that gave him the chance — Pangalangan would want to help the program cultivate a winning culture while he’s there.
“Iniisip ko lang yung coaches trust me. So I want to give back to what they did to me. Sa first year ko, I want to change the culture sa Benilde to a winning team,” he declared. “In the past few years, ‘pag sinabi mo na Benilde, ah wala yan.
“In the past few years, lagi kaming pinagtatawanan. This year, gusto naming ma-realize ng tao na ang Benilde, hindi lang basta-basta. Ang Benilde, kaya niya makipag-compete sa other schools like San Beda, Ateneo.”
Pangalangan’s arrival is definitely a solid boost for the Blazers in the upcoming NCAA season, especially that they’re coming off a good run last year where they finished with a 10-8 card and missed the Final Four narrowly.
The incoming rookie would want Benilde to go all the way.
“Our mentality this year is gusto namin na ang Benilde papasok ng Finals,” he shared. “Maraming gagraduate this year so we want to make the most out of it.
“Ayaw na namin i-lose ang chance na ito kasi complete na kami at matured na.”
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