MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia big man Ian Sangalang has struggled to duplicate his superb 29-point, nine-rebound performance in Game 1 of their PBA Philippine Cup finals series against defending champion San Miguel Beer.
Sangalang was crucial in Magnolia’s 105-103 come-from-behind win in Game 1, as he shot 13-of-19 from the field and went shot-for-shot with SMB’s June Mar Fajardo.
But he only had 11 points in Game 2, a 92-77 loss by Magnolia, and the downward trend continued in Game 3. He was limited to only six points on 2-of-10 shooting, as San Miguel claimed a 111-87 win for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“Tonight, bad start lang ako,” said Sangalang, who came off the bench in Sunday’s Game 3 as coach Chito Victolero opted to start Kyle Pascual in his place.
“Siyempre, ‘di ako nag-start ng game. Pagpasok ko, medyo bad start ako. Ayun, siguro na-down ako ng kaunti,” he admitted. “Ayun, parang nagtuloy-tuloy. ‘Di ko alam ‘yung mafi-feel ko kanina sa game, kung ano gagawin ko.”
Sangalang didn’t hit his first field goal until the third quarter, when he put back a missed three-pointer by Paul Lee. It turned out to be just one of two field goals for the center for the game.
He readily credits the SMB defense, as the Beermen have not given him a break ever since Game 1. June Mar Fajardo remains his primary defender, but veteran big man Gabby Espinas was also instrumental in limiting Sangalang in Game 3.
“Pagpasok ko, magandang depensa ang pinakita nila,” Sangalang said of San Miguel.
It did not help that he also had to defend Fajardo on the other end of the floor – a task that can drain any big man in the PBA. Victolero theorized that Sangalang’s offense suffered because of how much energy he had to spend in trying to limit the Kraken.
“Baka medyo apektado lang ‘yung offense niya ngayon because of his very good defense against June Mar. Maganda ‘yung dinepensa niya, siguro he needs to adjust lang kaunti sa offense,” said Victolero after the game.
For Sangalang, however, this is no excuse. He feels that he should be able to do both – score at a high level while still holding down the four-time PBA Most Valuable Player.
“Mahirap na trabaho, kasi siyempre June Mar eh. Todo-bigay ka sa depensa. Siguro one thing na puwede maubos ka, mapapagod ka, pero okay lang kasi napapagod din si June Mar eh,” Sangalang pointed out.
“Siguro, kailangan talaga ng positive mindset coming to the next game, na kahit pagod ka, isipin mo na lang na kaya mo pa rin, na ‘di ka mapapagod,” he said.
He vows to bring this positive mindset to Game 4 on Wednesday, where he will try to arrest his skid of back-to-back low-scoring games.
“Kung ano ‘yung trabaho na binibigay sa akin, gagawin ko,” he said. “Sa offense kanina, binibigyan naman ako eh. Mahirap lang talaga na makuha, kasi may depensa at saka ready sila.”
“Pero ayun – defense man o offense, ready naman ako,” Sangalang promised. “Ready din kasi ‘yung kabila, so next game, bawi na lang. Bawi na lang.”
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