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The return of Gilas Marc Pingris

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After Gilas Pilipinas’ Wednesday training session ended, Marc Pingris sat on one end of the Meralco gym, his back resting against the wall with both of his legs resting on two more chairs.

The forward stared blankly and let the moment sink in. Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Nahihirapan ako,” he admitted after suiting up for Gilas training a few days after he announced his return.

The squad had arrived recently from a pocket tournament in Estonia, and took a break on Tuesday before going back to its daily grind Wednesday morning.

Pingris quickly immersed himself in practice, although he knows it will be a process as he is joining the team that has been practicing for over three weeks now and has been developing great chemistry on and off the floor.

“Unang try ko pa lang nagtanong na agad ako ng mga play. Tinuro naman nila sa akin,” Pingris quipped of other veterans Dondon Hontiveros, Jimmy Alapag, and Gabe Norwood who helped him adjust.

“Pati ako nalilito so kailangan talaga doble-kayod sa pagtanong-tanong and focus talaga sa plays,” he said.

Even if he was having difficulties getting familiarized with the new surrounding, Pingris still brought the intensity that was missed when he was not around.

He set hard picks for ball handlers, muscled his way underneath for rebounds, and tried to bother people with his on-ball defense — the typical all-hustle, all-out Pingris people fondly recall.

Prior to the start of Gilas’ evening practice, he even spoke to Calvin Abueva — another energy guy — asking him to connive with Pingris to bring an energetic atmosphere.

“Sabi ko sa kanya, bigyan natin ng energy itong practice, para mapush pa. So happy naman ako dahil kahit papano makakatulong naman yung energy namin,” Pingris said.

He sure needs to catch up on a handful of stuff, but what is important is he is back.

Being with Gilas 2 for so long, Pingris is no stranger to the situation.

He has missed a lot of other moments in his life for a chance represent flag and country.

Yet just being part of the national team keeps him going. What he missed the most is how the team bonds and stays together for a cause.

“Yung samahan, yung kulitan, yung alam mong sa PBA nagsisikuhan kayo pero dito magkakapatid. Talagang nasa likod mo ang isa’t-isa. Yun ang talagang namiss ko sa team na ‘to,” he shared.

Being away from the national team earlier gave him an opportunity to catch up on personal moments, and yet he still decided to catch up with Gilas 3.

He’ll surely miss more moments again in the future.

He knows that. But he’s back with the team now.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Pingris soaked in the moment, and was the last to exit the gym. It felt different for him, yet it felt familiar.

Something he’s done before. Something… normal.

It felt special for him.

And on that note, he’s back.

Gilas Pingris has returned.

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