MANILA, Philippines – Just when Magnolia needed Ian Sangalang the most in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals, he delivered.
The five-year big man churned out a team-high 20 points as the Hotshots claimed a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven affair and moved one win from the title with a gritty 79-78 win over Alaska on Friday, December 14.
It was a major upgrade for Sangalang after he averaged 9.8 points per contest in the last 4 finals games. He never scored higher than 11 points prior to Game 5.
"Sa series na ito parang ito na 'yung magandang performance na nilaro ko. Thankful din ako nakapag-adjust ako today," Sangalang, who also finished with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal, told reporters after the game.
(I think this is my best performance in this series. I'm thankful that I was able to adjust.)
"Nakapag-adjust kami kung ano 'yung dapat naming gawin. Hindi lang ako 'yun eh. Kasi yung mga teammates ko rin. Ina-adjust namin 'yung kanya-kanya naming role so naging effective sa game na 'to."
(We were able to adjust to what's needed. Not just me, but my teammates as well. We adjusted our roles so we were effective in this game.)
While Magnolia import Romeo Travis struggled from the field on a horrendous 3-of-19 shooting, Sangalang put the ball on the hoop with ease on an impressive 8-of-13 clip.
And all of his buckets were crucial in the down-to-the-wire triumph, the last on an and-one play he converted that put the Hotshots up 77-76 with 18 seconds left.
Sangalang, though, deflected the credit to his teammates after they stopped a 3-on-1 Alaska fastbreak that paved way for his late-game heroics.
"Thankful ako sa mga teammates ko kasi sila 'yung nagtrabaho doon sa kabilang court eh. Hindi sila nag-give up. Ako, kahit andoon ako sa kabilang court, hindi ako bumaba. Sila 'yun eh. Hindi na ako 'yun."
(I'm thankful for my teammates because they worked hard on the defensive end. They didn't give up. I didn't run back on defense. That was them. It's not me.)
Now a win away from clinching their first championship since the 2014 Governors' Cup, Sangalang just wants his team to remain grounded.
"Sobrang excited pero hindi mo kailangan ilagay sa isip mo na ganoon ka-excited. Kailangan dito, kada play importante talaga," he added.
(I'm excited but we shouldn't let this get in our heads. Every play here is important.)
"Hindi mo dapat pabayaan na magkamali ka sa isang possession. Isang possession dito importante. Kung gaano kahirap 'yung ngayon, alam ko mas mahirap next game."
(You shouldn't let yourself commit a mistake in a possession. Every possession here is important. If this was hard, it will only get harder the next game.)
The Hotshots go for the kill in Game 6 on Wednesday, December 19, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.