After 10 months, Magnolia big man Marc Pingris will finally make his basketball return when the Philippine Basketball Association kicks off its 44th season on January 13 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The 37-year old veteran has been out of basketball action since March 10, 2018, due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear injury on his left knee that he suffered in Game 1 of last year’s Philippine Cup semifinals against NLEX.
Now, he’s finally healthy and is ready to roar anew in the upcoming 2019 Philippine Cup, where Magnolia is being hailed as one of the teams to beat.
However, for the Pozzorubio, Pangasinan native, he will have his hands full getting his old, workhorse form back before being a consistent help anew for Magnolia.
“Ini-expect ko na hindi ganun kadali. Parang mag-one year din kasi ako nawala sa court. Kailangan ko ibalik yung workout ko, yung timing ganun,” he said.
“Number one yung conditioning ko eh.”
Good thing for longtime Gilas Pilipinas member, his load will be lessened this time, especially since his teammates have learned to blossom to their full potentials.
One glaring factor of that development without him was the Finals appearance last Philippine Cup and the coveted championship in the recently-concluded Governors’ Cup last month, ending Magnolia’s four-year title drought since completing a grand slam in 2014.
“Sa totoo lang, lahat sila nag-step up talaga. Sila Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca at Ian Sangalang,” said the two-time Finals Most Valuable Player, who turned into an effective cheerleader and guide for Magnolia on the bench this past year.
“Talagang nakikinig sila, ‘pag may sinasabi ako, nakikinig talaga sila.”
With his teammates’ efforts while he was out, Magnolia have become perennial contenders, which Pingris pointed out as just a fruit of their labor after the past four years of title futility.
“Dahil sa mga hard work nitong mga teammates kaya napansin kami. Sa totoo lang, bago namin narating yun. Alam niyo naman pinagdaanan namin before eh – lagi kaming out,” he reflected.
“Isa siguro sa motivation nila yung palaging talo dati. Ito yung foundation na tinayo ni coach Chito Victolero. Ngayon, lumalabas na rin.”
With this in mind, Pingris believes that sky’s the limit for the promising Magnolia franchise after they finally reclaimed their lost glory.
“Sabi ko lang sa kanila dati, lagi kayong magtitiwala sa isa’t isa. Nandito kami nila coach para iguide tong mga to,” he shared.
“Palagi nilang iisipin kung saan sila naggaling.”
Pingris also welcomes the longer change of getting his conditioning back, as Magnolia will not see action until Februrary 3 when they tussle against the new-look Talk ‘N Text at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.