Apr 16, 2024

Ian Sangalang: An inspiring story

IAN Sangalang is truly back to his old deadly form and so are the rejuvenated Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots.

In his best shape since coming back from thyroid illness last year, Sangalang dished out a career-high 32 points plus 13 rebounds to get the Hotshots past streaking NorthPort last Wednesday, 104-97, and back on track from a two-game slide.

Four days later, the veteran slotman from Lubao, Pampanga turned in a comprehensive 23-point, nine-rebound, five-assist statline to help his team to score a 107-93 romp over Phoenix and leap to solo lead in the PBA Philippine Cup at 3-2.

On account of this pair of sterling performances spiked by averages of 27.5 markers (with 64 percent field goal shooting), 11 boards and 2.5 dimes, Sangalang earned the nod as PBA Press Corps-Pilipinas Live Player of the Week for the period April 10 to 14.

Sangalang's resurgence is an inspiring story. The former NCAA MVP was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in January 2023, forcing him to miss majority of last season's Governors' Cup and throwing his career into jeopardy. Keeping the faith in months of treatment and recovery, Sangalang returned to active duty in the last Commissioner's Cup, slowly working his way back.

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"Inisip ko lang na challenge iyon para sa akin at may dahilan bakit nangyari iyun. Sobrang thankful ako sa lahat ng nangyari; nakita ko naman 'yung sagot eh," Sangalang said as he looked back to that episode.

"Thankful din ako sa coaching staff, especially kay coach Chito, sa tiwala ulit na binigay nila sa akin, sa mga teammates ko, sila yung nag-lift sa akin na makabalik dito eh. So ayun, positive lang everyday and magiging okay din ang lahat," he added.

The Hotshots are reaping the fruit after letting Sangalang take his time in his long road to recovery.

"Kaming lahat we're trying to support Ian, hindi namin siya nira-rush before. Gusto namin dahan-dahan hanggang makuha niya ang kundisyon at kumpyansa nya. And now nakukuha na niya," said Victolero. "Malaking bagay si Ian sa team namin kasi he's our best post-up player at pagbalik niya, maganda na ang rotation namin sa frontline."

The fit-again Sangalang was selected by the men and women covering the PBA beat as the week's best over the likes of Ginebra's promising rookie Ralph Cu, who posted a near triple double of 24-10-9 in the Gin Kings' 95-88 win over NorthPort, and TNT's top gun Calvin Oftana, who fired a career-high-tying 37 in the Tropang Giga's 104-101 come-from-behind win over NLEX in Candon, Ilocos Sur.