MANILA, Philippines – The absence of Ian Sangalang has left a gaping hole in the middle for Magnolia.
But the Hotshots are somehow flourishing even without their best local big man, with the likes of Russel Escoto rising to the occasion.
Escoto played his best game in a Magnolia uniform as he put up 10 points and 8 rebounds in a 112-97 victory over Rain or Shine that stretched their PBA Governors’ Cup winning streak to four games on Wednesday, February 22.
“I’m always ready,” said Escoto in Filipino. “My mindset is I’m always ready whenever coach calls my name. I always take care of my body.”
Sangalang played in the conference opener against Converge but missed the last six games after falling under the weather.
But ever since Sangalang sat out, Escoto has stepped up to the plate and normed 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds – his highest averages throughout his near two-year stint with the Hotshots.
“I’m focused on doing the dirty work. Coach always tells me to help, especially on defense. We all know that our specialty is defense. On offense, I’m thankful to my teammates for finding me,” said Escoto.
Despite his string of commendable performances, Escoto said he still wants to improve his game in order to aid import Antonio Hester as Sangalang continues to be sidelined.
The Hotshots have not lost since the arrival of Hester, who averaged 27.5 points, 15 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2 steals in four games.
“I’m happy but I’m not satisfied. We need to make up for the absence of Ian,” said Escoto. “It really helps that Hester is there to fill that void.”
Magnolia shoots for its fifth straight win as it tangles with Meralco on Sunday, February 26, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
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