Louie Sangalang gives Terrafirma Dyip added option, hope

Terrafirma Dyip's Louie Sangalang in the PBA Philippine Cup

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

Louie Sangalang’s transition from a key enforcer during Letran’s championship years to a reliable rookie for Terrafirma in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) seems to be back on track.

“It took me some time to adjust because it’s even more physical here in the PBA,” Sangalang said after his play on both ends was among the reasons why the Dyip are now closer to their goal of ending a quarterfinal drought that runs close to a decade.

Sangalang’s 19 points and five rebounds while battling his way in the paint for most of the thrilling 110-108 win on Wednesday at Ninoy Aquino Stadium helped Terrafirma get into an even 5-5 (win-loss) slate in the PBA Philippine Cup.

And if the Dyip can get Sangalang and other role players to complement main cogs Juami Tiongson, Javi Gomez de Liano, Isaac Go and top rookie Stephen Holt, who scored the winning basket with 3.1 seconds left, getting past the eliminations could become a reality.

Terrafirma plays its final elimination assignment on May 3 against traditional powerhouse Magnolia at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City, needing perhaps a performance surpassing its win over NorthPort or at least equal the massive upset of Barangay Ginebra a few weeks ago to get the job done.

A loss could create complications in terms of Terrafirma’s chances to get at least the lower seats in the Last 8.

“All of them are willing to sacrifice to be competitive and making sure that we have a chance to win every game,” said coach Johnedel Cardel, who surpassed the most number of wins he’s had since handling the usually struggling franchise in 2018.


Isaac Go and rookie Kemark Carino, who blocked Arvin Tolentino’s game-tying basket before the buzzer, were among the key reasons for Terrafirma’s triumph, and will be integral against a physical Magnolia side.Sangalang, not shy of showing his swagger, was chosen in the second round of last season’s Rookie Draft after leading the Knights to three straight NCAA titles.

It’s a pick that was a no-brainer for Cardel, who for a time was part of a group called the “Super Friends” that provided support to Letran and its then-coach Bonnie Tan, who is now handling NorthPort.

“He’s a big help for us because he’s a small big man,” said Cardel. “Even if he’s undersized, he’s got a big heart. In the PBA, you have to play with a big heart. If you have a weak heart, you’re not gonna last.”

NorthPort fell to 4-6 after a fifth straight setback, continuing its stunning freefall after an impressive start.

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