For over a year, Marc Pingris has been a mere spectator at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City, showing support for SMART Gilas Pilipinas. But on Tuesday night, Pingris turned back the clock and took part in the Nationals’ workouts.
Yes. The 36-year-old played.
It was clearly the Pingris of old as he joined the team in numerous drills, actively showing his former teammates — and, of course, the younger cagers — how to play the Gilas way. Indeed, him playing in a Pilipinas shirt was a sight to behold.
But for the two-time FIBA Asia silver medalist, he had simply decided to return since he missed the vibes of playing with the flag-bearers.
“Na-miss ko maki-halubilo sa mga new Gilas,” Pingris told Tiebreaker Times after the session. “Nami-miss ko talaga rin. Nami-miss ko maglaro at nami-miss ko rin si Coach (Chot Reyes).
“Iba rin yung feeling talaga. Napakasarap.
“Nakakamiss lang,” added the six-foot-four forward. “Nandoon naman yung winelcome nila ako, so nagpapasalamat talaga ako na kahit paano welcome pa rin ako. Sabi ni coach anytime na pumunta ako rito, open na open.”
Will Pingris be dropping by Gilas practices oftentimes, he was asked. “Yes, yes, yes. Part na rin ‘to ng pa-kundisyon (for the upcoming PBA season),” confirmed the Star Hotshots’ unquestioned leader.
The 13-year veteran’s presence on Tuesday night was definitely a huge morale booster for Gilas, especially with the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers opening its curtains in 17 days.
And now that he was able to see how this current batch of Gilas plays individually and collectively, Pingris is optimistic that this squad can achieve something — but of course with a few more polishings here and there.
“Okay yung team na ‘to,” he praised. “[Pero] Kailangan pa nila mag-adjust as a team. Kasi nakikita ko ngayon malalaki yung makakalaban natin, so kailangan nila i-manage yung speed. Yun ang laban natin eh. Kailangan din maging solid sila.
“But I believe na may mararating sila.“