PBA: Fit-again Ian Sangalang back to a happy place

PBA: Fit-again Ian Sangalang back to a happy place

/ 04:20 AM March 25, 2024

Ian Sangalang

PBA player Ian Sangalang. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

BACOLOD—Behind each PBA player’s All-Star selection is a story that makes his inclusion in the midseason extravaganza distinct.

And Ian Sangalang’s participation in this year’s showcase is high up there among the noteworthy plotlines.

The Magnolia big man played his second All-Star Game on Sunday night at University of St. La Salle Coliseum here—a triumphant return in itself after battling two thyroid problems earlier this year that made him feel he wasn’t among the big boys.


“I just feel blessed and happy to be back on the All-Star stage. This is a big deal for my career. As you know, I’ve been through a lot and still, I found my way back here,” he told the Inquirer in Filipino just hours before he took the floor before a thick crowd of Ilonggos.

READ: PBA: After tough life stretch, Ian Sangalang eager for comeback

Sangalang started to miss games during last season’s Commissioner’s Cup due to an undetected health issue. He then missed a significant amount of the Governor’s Cup as he dealt with what turned out to be a severe thyroid condition, which required sessions of internal radiotherapy.

The 11-year veteran, picked second overall in his draft class, said a return to form would not have been possible if not for the trust that Magnolia brain trust, led by Chito Victolero, has given him throughout his journey to recovery.


“In the early days of my return, I felt like I didn’t know how to play basketball,” he recalled, shaking his head. “I lost a lot of energy throughout it all. As in, I felt I was back to zero.”

READ: PBA player Ian Sangalang to file case against Singaporean after game-fixing allegations


“I talked to coach Chito and told him I just need one game to play and maybe my confidence would follow. I’m thankful that he gave me all the playing time I wanted—even during the (last Commissioner’s Cup) Finals.”

On Sunday night, Sangalang backstopped a Mark Barroca-captained squad, playing alongside other Magnolia teammates in Jio Jalalon and crowd-favorite Calvin Abueva.

The Pampanga native was able to close a turbulent chapter in his playing career and is just thankful.

“Whenever I think about it—that moment after I talked to my doctor—it was really such a downer. But I told myself, if I wasn’t going to fight through it, I’ll be done for,” Sangalang said.

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“Next year, I could be back here (PBA All-Star Game). I may not,” he said. “But I’m really thankful for everything that has happened to me.”

TAGS: PBA, Sports

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