MANILA, Philippines -- The Magnolia Hotshots are off to a strong start in the 2021 PBA Phiippine Cup, thanks in part to the performances of big man Ian Sangalang.
Out with a vengeance after an early exit in the bubble last year, the Hotshots won their first three games to gain a piece of the early lead.
The Hotshots posted huge wins over rivals Alaska Aces and Barangay GInebra Kings for the period July 19-25 behind Sangalang's steady presence.
The 6-foot-7 big man out of San Sebastian College averaged 21.5 points on 50-percent shooting, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals during that stretch to emerge as the CignalPlay-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week.
The former NCAA MVP began his impressive week with a 26-point output against the Aces, capped by the game-winning lay-up at the buzzer as Magnolia escaped with a thrilling 84-82 win over Alaska last Wednesday.
Four days after against arch nemesis Barangay Ginebra in the second straight Manila Classico without the fans, Sangalang didn't shy away either, methodically operating inside against the Twin Towers of Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger to finish with 17 points, three boards, a steal, and a block in Magnolia's convincing 89-79 win over the defending champions.
Sangalang's exploits didn't come as a surprise for Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, tagging him as one of the league's finest anchors in the middle today.
"I'm very proud kay Ian. Start nung nag-coach ako dito sa Magnolia, ang laki ng improvement niya. Sobrang taas nung nilalaro niya and he established himself as one of the best big men here in the PBA," said Victolero of the 2013 No. 2 overall pick.
"Although siguro, 'di lang nakikita ng iba, but on our team, we consider him as kung baga franchise (player) na doon sa middle. We want Ian to be our anchor on defense and offense," he added.
Sangalang, a four-time champion and Mythical Second Team member, edged CJ Perez of San Miguel and teammate Paul Lee for the weekly honor given by the group regularly covering the PBA beat.
Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, and Mo Tautuaa were the other Player of the Week candidates after helping San Miguel, the five-time All-Filipino title holder, regain footing with two straights wins the past week.