LEGAZPI CITY —Towering Kapampangan center Jeremiah ‘Jay’ Pangalangan is looking forward to his arrival at De La Salle University—and his impending battles with Nigerian reinforcement Ben Mbala in the future Green Archers’ team practices.
“Mas maganda nga po na andu’n siya para mas ma-challenge ako at mas magkaroon ng kumpyansa makalaban ang mga imports,” the 6-foot-9 Pangalangan, 16, told FOX Sports on Thursday after leading Central Luzon to the semifinal round of the 2016 Palarong Pambansa behind a 100-82 victory over Western Visayas at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.
The entry of Pangalanan, a proud native of Angeles City, Pampanga, should come in handy for the Green Archers, who are looking for a needed inside presence which they sorely lacked last year when they missed the Final Four round for the first time since 2011.
But Pangalangan admitted he still has his work cut out for him.
“Kailangan ko pa magpalaki ng katawan at i-improve rin ang rebounding. Sabi ng mga coaches ko, wala namang problema sa akin sa opensa. Kahit hindi ako pumuntos, basta makuha ko lahat ng rebound tapos may block shots pa, okay na po ako,” he said.
Pangalangan added his entry to the Green Archers will be a reunion of sorts with new La Salle mentor Aldin Ayo, who also worked with him during the Jr. NBA event in 2012.
“Gusto naman niya po ako at tuwang-tuwa po siya sa akin na magkakasama ulit kami,” he said, adding that Ayo is seriously considering him to be included for their Season 79 roster.
“May sinabi naman na po siya sa akin before. Hopefully, mai-lineup ako. Sabi naman ni coach Aldin sa akin, ‘Gawin mo lang ‘yung laro mo na nakita ko sayo, ila-line up kita,’” Pangalangan added.
Among those very glad to see Pangalangan inch closer to his hoop dreams is veteran coach Allan Trinidad, who is calling the shots for Central Luzon in the annual multi-sporting meet.
“Mataas ang potential ni Jay kasi matangkad siya tapos dedicated rin siya sa pag-i-improve niya,” said Trinidad, 63, a former San Sebastain College coach. “Definitely sa La Salle na siya pero tinitignan ko pa rin kung talagang ready na siya.
Trinidad added Pangalangan will also suit up for Batang Gilas in the FIBA Asia Under-18 championships should they qualify.
Pangalangan is the latest prodigy to come out of the DELTA basketball training camp, which has produced the likes of pro league stars like Calvin Abueva of Alaska, Star’s Ian Sangalang and Ronald Pascual, who formed the notable ‘Pinatubo Trio’ of the Golden Stags in the NCAA.
Trinidad, who is also serving as Pampanga’s provincial sports director, admitted all his efforts are paying off thanks to the continued support of Pampanga Vice Governor Dennis Pineda.
“Million ang budget namin sa training camp na ‘yan. We give money to the trainees, pang-pamasahe at pang-kain nila,” said Trinidad. “Kung may qualified sa kanila sa mga schools na lumalapit sa amin, ipinamimigay namin sila para magkaroon ng scholarship. We definitely help poor people in our place. Kapag talented ka sa basketball, mapapabilang ka sa kanila.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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