PBA Philippine Cup

Bad back and all, Sangalang carries Magnolia to 5th straight win

JR Isaga
Bad back and all, Sangalang carries Magnolia to 5th straight win

Ian Sangalang. Photo from PBA Images

Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero salutes Ian Sangalang for fighting through the back issues that have been plaguing him in the PBA Philippine Cup

After a concerning 1-4 start in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, the Magnolia Hotshots are now in the thick of the playoff race following an 83-76 escape act against the also-ran NorthPort Batang Pier on Sunday, November 8.

Following a string of scoring explosions from star guard Paul Lee, it was big man Ian Sangalang who did the heavy lifting this time around, with a 23-point, 9-rebound outing off the bench in the Hotshots’ fifth straight win.

Not even a bad back can stop one of Pampanga’s best from helping his team get a favorable spot in the neck-and-neck seeding war before the quarterfinals begin.

“‘Di ko na iniisip ‘yung sakit na nararamdaman ko ngayon,” Sangalang said in the walk-off interview. “Importante sa ‘kin ‘yung makatulong ako sa team, ‘yung ibigay ko ‘yung best ko every game.”

“Thankful ako sa mga PTs (physical therapists) namin na sumusuporta sa ‘kin. Credit sa kanila talaga,” the 6-foot-7 star added.

(I wasn’t thinking of the pain today. What’s important is that I get to help the team and give them my best every game. I’m thankful for the PTs who support me. Credit goes to them.)

Ever since the PBA bubble started, the Hotshots have been extra careful in fielding their prized center for extended periods of time, as back issues have been plaguing him from the get-go.

Because of this, head coach Chito Victolero is grateful that Sangalang is consistently performing at a high level despite the back pains and limited time. Prior to this game, he averaged 13.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in under 30 minutes per game.

“Mayroong time talaga na parang ilalabas namin si Ian because kailangang i-treat ‘yung injury niya, pero siya mismo ‘yung nagsabi na, ‘Coach, hindi na,'” Victolero said.

“I’m very happy and proud with Ian kasi, grabe ‘yung puso ng bata,” he continued. “Masakit ‘yung likod niya, but gusto pa rin niya mag-stay para makatulong sa team, and ‘yun, talagang pinapasalamatan ng buong team ‘yun.”

(There are times when we feel we need to take Ian out for treatment, but he keeps refusing, saying ‘Coach, no need.’ I’m very happy and proud of Ian because he has a lot of heart. His back is in pain, but he still wants to play to help the team, and the team really thanks him for that.)

Certainly, Magnolia needed every one of Sangalang’s points in the close win after Lee was held to just 14 points on 4/13 shooting and 1/7 from three.

Instead of being nailed to 8th place had they lost, the Hotshots are now in a three-way tie with Meralco and Alaska for the 4th seed.

Moving on to their next game against the Blackwater Elite, another eliminated squad, Victolero is just thankful that they are where they are right now, regardless of whether or not they still have a shot for a twice-to-beat playoff advantage.

“‘Di na namin iniisip ‘yun eh, kasi lagi ko sinasabi sa players ko, ang tanging mako-control namin is our game on Wednesday,” he said. “No matter what happens doon sa other teams, ‘di namin kontrolado ‘yun eh.”

(We’re not thinking about that, because I keep telling my players, we can only control our game on Wednesday. No matter what happens with the other teams, that’s no longer within our control.) – Rappler.com

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