There should be no question about how invaluable the contributions of Marc Pingris were to Gilas Pilipinas. He willingly did whatever it took to win — even if it meant playing through pain.
The recently-retired cager recalled the Nationals’ infamous conquest of Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship as one of those instances where he braved through injuries, all for national cause.
Sure, many will forever remember the thrilling outcome and what the team accomplished in that 86-79 semis victory. But unbeknownst to many, perhaps, Pingris suffered a light ankle sprain during the match.
That was aside from the iliotibial (ITB) syndrome he incurred during Gilas’ game against Chinese Taipei earlier in the tournament held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
For the 6-foot-4 workhorse, he just could not afford to stay on the bench longer, given that naturalized center Marcus Douthit hurt his right calf during the match.
“Sa Taiwan pa lang meron na akong parang ITB. But during the game against Korea na-light sprain ako roon and sumakit na ‘yung ITB ko roon, so umiika-ika na ako,” he told Tiebreaker Times.
“But naiisip ko lang na hindi ko kailangan mag-give up dahil nawala si Marcus that time. And kumbaga this is it na e, wala nang atrasan. Kumbaga bigay na lahat kasi kailangan manalo. Nagtulong-tulong lahat ng team, lahat ng player.”
At the end of the day, though, Pingris is only human. As the adrenaline subsided, he started to feel the pain. That forced him to see limited action in the gold medal match against Iran, where they bowed.
“Pagkatapos nung game andun pa ‘yung adrenaline mo eh. Pero pagkauwi namin ng hotel, mga 1:30 in the morning ‘yun kumikirot na siya until 4 a.m. ‘di ako makatulog. Kaya di ako masyado nakalaro against Iran,” he shared.
“Pero ang pinaka-gusto namin manalo talaga, makuha ‘yung ginto. Pero wala eh, ‘di na talaga kaya.“
That is why he understands why some players cannot afford to play through the pain, especially when it is no longer manageable.
That appears to be the case of Mo Tautuaa recently, who was not able to play Gilas 3×3’s final assignments in the ongoing FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Austria due to a severe stiff neck, according to reports.
Tautuaa had to beg off from competing in Gilas’ Day 2 slate due to it.
“Mahirap din kasi maglaro ng may stiff neck eh,” Pingris offered. “Na-try ko na ‘yun, talagang hindi ko talaga mabigay ‘yung hundred percent ko but nilalaro ko siya. Nilalaro ko pero it depends din kung anong klalseng stiff neck ‘yan eh.
“Sa’kin kasi, hindi ko malingon sa kaliwa’t kanan. Masakit, pero kaya ko naman ilaro. Pero siya, baka napuruhan, parang ganon. Eh kaming mga player naman, ‘yan ‘yung pinaka-ayaw na ayaw namin, ‘yung mga ganyang stiff neck,” he continued.
“Hanggang kaya mo naman, kaya mo ilaro ‘yung mga ganyan. Pero nasa player minsan talagang ‘pag hindi na kaya.”
Asked if there is one lesson that he would want to impart to the younger national players, Pingris said that they should all maximize their time with Gilas the best they can, since it is an opportunity that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“For me, ‘pag nag-step ka talaga sa floor, you need to give your best, your hundred percent,” he said. “You know, minsan lang kasi ‘yung mga ganyang opportunity na dumting sa buhay, and then you know babalik-balikan mo kasi ‘to minsan.
He added, “Like me, nung naglaro kami ng Gilas, I gave my best, my one hundred percent. Kasi ngayon ‘pag nag-retire ka na, babalik-balikan mo ‘yan eh. Sayang ‘yung opportunity, ‘di ba? Hanggat kaya, or hangga’t kaya ilaro, gawin nila.
“Kapag binigyan ka ng opportunity maglaro diyan, kailangan talaga ilabas mo ‘yung puso mo para makapaglaro ka ng maayos and to inspire din ‘yung ibang tao na nanonood sa’yo para at least sundin din ‘yung yapak mo,” said Gilas’ loyal soldier last decade.
“Kasi ‘pag naglaro talaga ako, I give my hunded percent eh, even though may scratch ‘yung mata ko, may fracture ‘yung kamay ko. Hanggang kaya ko, nilalaro ko, kasi hindi mo mababalikan ‘yung time na ‘yan eh hangga’t bata ka. Kasi ‘pag nagkaka-edad ka na, mahirap na ilaro ‘yung mga ganon, bumababa rin kasi ‘yung level ng laro mo. So habang bata ka, ibigay mo na ‘yung hundred percent mo.”