Stags’ chief playmaker opts to join PBA draft

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    MORE than RK Ilagan’s high-scoring exploits, it’s his leadership that San Sebastian College will dearly miss.

    Golden Stags coach Egay Macaraya is ready to move on, however, after his prized playmaker opted to forego his final year with the squad and instead join the PBA Draft set on March 14.

    “It’s really a big loss, not just because of his output, but what is really important is his leadership, being the last veteran and captain of the team,” Macaraya told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.

    “But we have to move on and focus on improving,” he added.

    The 5-foot-8 Ilagan averaged 15.8 points, to go with 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists for San Sebastian in the last NCAA cage wars.

    Ilagan, 23, scored a career-high 36 points, on top of six boards and three dimes in the Stags’ stepladder Final Four loss to eventual champion Letran that turned out to be his swan song.

    Macaraya is now hoping 6-foot-5 big man JM Calma, another graduating player, will remain with the Recto-based five.

    “One thing I’m sure of, he’s (Calma) still practicing with the team in our virtual practices,” Macaraya said.

    “So, hopefully tuloy-tuloy na. But if he makes a decision to join in the Draft, I’ll support and pray for him and move on.”

    Calma was good for 8.1 points and 8.0 rebounds last season.

    The NCAA intends to launch its new season with only the four mandatory sports – basketball, volleyball, swimming, and track and field – under a school-based bubble concept in the second quarter this year.

    The remainder of the NCAA 95th season was called off for good in mid-March last year at the start of the stringent government-imposed lockdown to stem the spread of the lethal pulmonary disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

    The Stags last reached the Promised Land in 2009 behind the likes of Jimbo Aquino, Pamboy Raymundo, Ronald Pascual, and now pros Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang.