Marc Pingris had always been impressed with Robert Bolick ever since the young gun entered the Philippine Basketball Association in 2018.
“Nung na-injure siya dati, sobrang down niya,” Pingris — who tore his ACL in March of 2018 — recalled during Tuesday’s edition of the Philippin Sportswriters Association Forum. “Tinawagan ko at tinext ko siya at kinwento ko na ako din, napagdaanan ko yun, twice pa sa same knee.
“Kaya sabi ko, kung gusto mong bumalik, hardwork lang, puso lang. Hindi ka gagaling, hindi ka makakabalik pag nandyan ka lang sa bahay mo. May mga araw na mafi-feel mo na sobrang ayaw mo magtrabaho, but yun ang unang una mong dapat labanan.”
Bolick eventually came back stronger, returning to the game as if he never left.
In the ongoing PBA Governors’ Cup, Bolick is leading the locals in scoring (20.5) and overall in assists (9.3), showing that he has fully recovered from the injury that forced him out for one year.
It was last Monday when he was able to see Bolick again when the two took part in Gilas’ preparations for the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Moro Lorenzo Gym.
And Pingris sees something in Bolick that puts him ahead of the rest — his heart.
From Pingris to Abueva to Bolick
When Pingris retired from Gilas duties back in 2016, he passed the torch to two people — Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan.
Though Almazan would be tasked to shout “Laban Pilipinas, Puso” during huddles, it was Abueva who epitomized it.
For this batch of Gilas, the two-time FIBA Asia silver medalist sees Bolick as the vocal leader of this team.
In fact, Bolick even re-upped with Northport just so he can play for Gilas.
“Sobra kasi niyang sipag at sabi niya sa akin, ‘Kuya, ito ‘yung pangarap ko eh –‘yung maglaro rito.’
“At nakita ng mga mata ko kahapon na gusto talaga niya kasi maaga siya at nagwo-workout agad siya,” beamed the 40-year-old Pingris, who is 14 years the senior of Bolick.
For Pingris, mentoring the likes of Bolick, Lebron Lopez, and Thirdy Ravena is his way of paying it forward.
After all, it was Danny Ildefonso who mentored him when he was first breaking into the league.
“Ang sarap sa feeling kasi yun ang ginawa ni Danny Ildefonso sa akin nung naging teammate ko siya. Sinabihan niya ako na, ‘In ten to twenty years, nasaan ka?’,” he said.
“Yun ang natutunan ko sa mentors ko dati at yun ang shine-share ko kila Bolick, Thirdy, Lopez. Kung gusto mong maging leader, kailangan kang bumuo ng relationship sa mga teammates mo kasi di makikinig sa yo yang mga yan kung wala kang relasyon sa kanila. Di ka nila titignan na leader kung wala kang relasyon sa kanila.
“Maliit na bagay yun, pero malaki ang magagawang impact sa buhay natin,” he closed.