Sangalang looms as logical Gilas addition
More standouts from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) joined Gilas Pilipinas’ training camp on Tuesday night at Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
Fresh off a botched Philippine Cup bid, Magnolia stars Ian Sangalang and Jio Jalalon were expected to show up for the build-up geared toward two Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup Asian Qualifier games slated later this month.
Tim Cone’s charges at Ginebra, stretch forward Arvin Tolentino, high-leaping and two-time World Cup veteran Japeth Aguilar, and reigning PBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Scottie Thompson have also been included in the pool and are expected to join the team this week.
Jalalon and Sangalang’s last Gilas experience came in 2019 under Yeng Guiao in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The 6-foot-8 Sangalang is shaping up as a neat addition to the talent pool, which will design its final roster around Jordan Clarkson, the hotshot NBA guard with the Utah Jazz.
Having Clarkson as the naturalized player underscores the need to reel in the best available local big men, and the Pampanga native—over the course of his nine-year PBA career—has proven that he is among this nation’s finest.
Sangalang’s inclusion would make even better sense should San Miguel Beer advance to the PBA Finals. That scenario—which will be resolved by Wednesday night—will deny Gilas PBA six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of inclusion.
Fajardo and CJ Perez, along with Meralco’s Chris Newsome have also been reportedly considered for the talent pool.
The Inquirer reported on Tuesday that the PBA is going to be firm on its decision to allow Gilas talent access to all but the two teams competing in the Philippine Cup, save for those who will see action in the Finals that will run smack into the schedule of the qualifiers.
The Philippines plays Lebanon, a side that handily defeated the Filipinos the last time, 95-80, on Aug. 25 in Beirut. The Nationals then host Saudi Arabia at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City in a contest that will also feature Clarkson wearing the Gilas red-white-and-blue for the first time on home soil.
Gilas took the lid off its camp on Monday night with NLEX’s Kevin Alas and Calvin Oftana, along with NorthPort’s Jamie Malonzo leading the PBA contingent.
Alas also played for the Philippines in the past, taking part in the three-year Gilas campaign to make the 2019 World Cup in China just like Jalalon and Sangalang. All three saw action for two games.
Oftana played for the Tab Baldwin-coached Gilas team last year. Malonzo, meanwhile, will be making his debut if he ever cracks the final roster. Both are sophomores in the PBA. INQ
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