If one told a 22-year-old Marc Pingris that he’d last for 16 seasons in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), he wouldn’t believe it.
The 6-foot-4 forward never thought that he’d play for that long when he entered Asia’s pioneering pro league as a wide-eyed youngster back in 2004.
“‘Yun nga rin, hindi rin eh,” the third overall pick of Fedex in the 2004 PBA Rookie Draft told The Game on One Sports+, Thursday evening.
But he did just that.
And in that span, he earned nine PBA championships — including a historic Grand Slam in 2014 — and a bunch of individual honors.
How did he do it? For Pingris, it was just simple.
“More discipline sa sarili,” said the two-time Finals MVP. “Kung talagang gusto mong tumagal sa PBA, kailanganin mong pa-kundisyunin sarili mo.
“Andun na ako, talagang inalagaan ko rin sarili ko.”
Those 16 seasons weren’t all smooth-sailing, though. Pingris also had to deal with various injuries, including an ACL tear in 2018.
A calf injury then made him sit out Magnolia’s Philippine Cup bubble campaign last year, although he has recovered from that already.
But all that wear-and-tear, he said, also played a part in his decision to hang up his sneakers for good, which he announced via social media last Tuesday.
“Part talaga sa player ang mga injuries, kaya siguro medyo napaaga rin ‘yung retirement natin,” said the 39-year-old.
It would have been ideal for accomplished veterans like him to have a swan song before calling it quits. Still, Pingris leaves with no regrets — at all.
“I’m happy naman na nagawa at nabigay ko ‘yung one hundred percent ko sa PBA, nagawa ko lahat,” said the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
“So wala naman siguro akong pagsisisihan pa nung nag-retire ako dahil saludo rin ako sa sarili ko na naibigay ko ang lahat.”
As he now bids goodbye to the game, the PBA 40 Greatest Players member hopes to be remembered for one thing: heart.
“Ako kasi ‘yung tipong I’ll give my best, ‘yung one hundred percent pagdating sa laro. Kahit may masakit talaga sa’kin, pinu-push ko ‘yung sarili ko para lang manalo ‘yung team. Gusto kong maisip din ng ibang tao, ‘pag sinabing Marc Pingris, ‘Ah, ‘yan ‘yung puso,'” said Pingris, who’s also known for his invaluable contributions to the Gilas Pilipinas program.
“Kumbaga, wala sa height ko ‘yung paglalaro ng basketball eh. Kahit na mas matangkad talaga sa’kin, talagang binibigay ko ‘yung puso ko, ‘yung hard work ko sa paglalaro. Kasi naniniwala naman talaga ako na kulang talaga ‘yung talento e, kailangan dagdagan mo ng hard work o puso. So, ‘yun siguro. Basta ‘pag sinabi mong Marc Pingris, puso ‘yan. Parang ganun,” the 15-time All-Star added.
“At sana, marami rin akong na-inspire na mga kabataan na naglalaro ng basketball.”