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FEARLESS ROOKIE

02:23 PM March 17, 2014

Freshman forward Ian Sangalang has been a transformed man since playing a key role in San Mig Super Coffee’s PBA Philippine Cup championship conquest last month.

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His improved play was evident in the Mixers’ first two games in the young PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

The No. 2 overall pick in last year’s Draft played like a grizzled veteran during the team’s debut game in the import-laden conference, finishing with 16 points on seven-of-nine field goal attempts, along with five rebounds to help San Mig smash winless GlobalPort, 91-75, on Wednesday.

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Sangalang, the one-time NCAA MVP, then followed up his huge performance against the Batang Pier with a dominant fourth quarter show on Sunday, scoring eight points in a critical run that allowed San Mig to rout Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 90-80. He finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Sangalang’s coming out party in just his second conference in the pro league earned him his very first Accel-PBA Press Corps PBA Player of the Week for the period of March 10-16.

“Ian gave us a huge lift and got us that lead in the fourth quarter,” Cone recalled, after the team’s first meeting with Ginebra since their tightly fought seven-game Philippine Cup semifinal series recently.

“He just doesn’t blink in the fourth quarter. When the pressure is on, it doesn’t matter who is guarding him whether it’s Japeth or the import. He just doesn’t back down, he’s not afraid,” added the beaming San Mig coach.

The 6-6 former San Sebastian star forward averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in the first two games of the conference, numbers that could easily make the Mixers a solid title contender for the Commissioner’s Cup. (RD)

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