Ian Sangalang may be severely handicapped as he helps veteran big man Marc Pingris defend San Miguel Beer star center June Mar Fajardo.
But the left-handed forward assured Star Hotshots fans he won’t back down against Fajardo and the Beermen when they shoot for an Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals berth on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Para sa akin, kung malaki kami, mas malalaki sila, pero kaya namin laruin na pare-parehas na malaki. Importante lang is kung sino mas aggressive at gustong manalo, kaya 50-50 yung ganung labanan,” Sangalang told FOX Sports, whose team staved off elimination after beating the top-seeded San Miguel, 108-99 to force a winner-take-all match.
The 6-foot-5 Sangalang only scored 2 points in the win-or-go-home match, but he gamely sacrificed his body in the 2nd half to ensure Fajardo won’t be able to dominate the painted area.
Fajardo was held down to only 9 points after scattering 15 in the first half.
“Siguro kailangan din na ipakita mong lumabalaban ka. Pareho lang naman kaming napapagod,” said the former PBA D-League Most Valuable Player.
“Ako kapag pinasok, kailangan dumepensa muna bago umopensa kasi marami naman umoopensa sa amin,” he added.
On the other hand, Star import Ricardo Ratliffe intends to replicate his dominating performance as the 8th-seeded Hotshots try to become just the 4th team in playoff history to upstage the top seed.
“They (Beermen) only had to beat us once, we had to beat them twice. So we had to go out there in our first game and lay everything on the line or we’re done,” said Ratliffe, who registered 33 points and hauled down 29 rebounds on Monday.
“Now we just need to come out there and play aggressive defense and run the floor.”
Star, which entered the playoff stage without injured star James Yap (calf), Alex Mallari (foot), Ronald Pascual ( knee) and Jake Pascual (wrist), go for the historic win on Wednesday in the lone 7 p.m. match against San Miguel. – By Richard Dy
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