It’s no secret that last year, RK Ilagan was famous for all the wrong reasons.
During the course of the NCAA Season 94, Ilagan had been exposed for playing in a ‘ligang labas’ prior to the tournament. It led to harsh consequences, such as the forfeiture of all of San Sebastian’s games in the first round.
That forfeiture hurt the Golden Stags’ Final Four chances.
But the past is past, as they say, and everybody has moved on. And despite Ilagan’s actions, head coach Egay Macaraya has presented the incoming senior with a significant responsibility: team captainship.
By the looks of it, the diminutive point guard is rising to the occasion.
In Valencia City, Bukidnon-San Sebastian’s clash with Chadao-FEU Tamaraws in the 2019 PBA D-League, Ilagan shone the brightest with a game-high 22 points – built on five three-pointers – along with 10 rebounds and four assists.
“Masyado na talaga siyang nag-mature,” lauded Macaraya, who’s been coaching Baste for four years. “Sabi ko kanina sa huddle, silang dalawa ni Allyn [Bulanadi] ang marked men, pero nakita yung pasensya.
“I give credit to the guy.”
However, Ilagan refuses to let the praise get to his head.
“‘Di po pumapasok talaga sa ulo ko na ganun ako,” shared the 21-year-old. “Kailangan ko talaga mag-lead sa kanila hindi sa maling paraan… Kumbaga sa mga ensayo namin, kailangan lahat kami nag-uusap. Parang ganun po.”
But he didn’t deny that the harsh lessons of last year are what push him to fulfill his duties to the team.
“Yun po yung nagsisilbing motivation sa’kin, na kailangan ko pong bumawi ngayong taon,” said Ilagan, who has been averaging 25 points in the last two games.
“Kailangan po talagang mag-mature kaming lahat.”