Louie Sangalang flexes usual toughness for Terrafirma

Terrafirma Dyip's Louie Sangalang in the PBA Philippine Cup

Terrafirma Dyip’s Louie Sangalang in the PBA Philippine Cup. –PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines—It took Louie Sangalang a few games but he finally got back his collegiate form in Terrafirma’s escape of Northport in the PBA Philippine Cup at Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Wednesday.

Sangalang powered the Dyip to a 110-108 victory over Batang Pier that put them on a better footing for a playoff spot with a 5-5 record.

The Letran product dropped 19 points and five rebounds to earn his first-ever career Player of the Game honors in the PBA.

READ: PBA rookie Louie Sangalang living the dream and embracing the challenge

And he did it by banging his way to the bucket despite the long arms of Northport bigs Zavier Lucero, Cade Flores and Damie Cuntapay to name a few.

“My coaches and seniors told me to play how I played before, but this time they said I need to use my head more,” said Sangalang with Inquirer Sports in Filipino.

“They told me, ‘you don’t need to taunt without any reason like you did in the NCAA when you were doing too much.’ You have to prove something first before you show your emotions.”

That’s exactly what the rookie did: show up first before  flexing his muscles–literally.

READ: PBA: Terrafirma boosts quarterfinals after edging NorthPort

In one of his buckets in the fourth period, Sangalang bullied his way to the paint to score over Cuntapay, a familiar face for the four-time NCAA champion.

Sangalang then flexed his muscles as he walked to the other court with the same fire he had in his NCAA days.

Unlike in his college heyday, though, Sangalang didn’t talk trash. He simply exuded confidence without doing or saying much that would get him ejected from the game, which had been a usual scene when he was playing for the Knights.

Terrafirma Dyip's Louie Sangalang in the PBA Philippine Cup

Terrafirma Dyip’s Louie Sangalang in the PBA Philippine Cup. –PBA IMAGES

It wasn’t easy toning down his confidence and upping his physical game, Sangalang admitted.

“I adjusted as well because it’s harder here and it’s more physical with the vets so even in practice, my older teammates play me physically so I adjusted well,” said Sangalang.

He was also extra motivated as he was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in the PBA All-Filipino conference.

Coach Johnedel Cardel made sure to let the the 6-foot-4 bruiser know before Sangalang faced his former  coach  tactician Bonnie Tan and it sure lit up a fire under Sangalang.

“Coach told me to prepare myself because I’ll start in the game against Northport. They wanted me to start because their bigs are agile and quick so they prepared me in as early as practice.”

Cardel, on the other hand, is just all smiles after seeing Sangalang flourish in the professional league. After all, he already took notice of Sangalang when he was still in college.

“I already knew him when he was in Letran… When he landed to me [in the draft], I told myself that he’ll be a big help for us because now we have a ‘small big man.’ Even if he’s just this size, he has a big heart and playing in the PBA, you have to have that,” said the mentor in Filipino.

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“If you’re a bit weak, nothing will happen to your career here. You need to be tough,” he added.

And Sangalang has been personifying the word “tough,” in the all-Filipino conference so far with norms of 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game on a packed 17:20 minutes per game under Cardel.

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