IN light of its inspiring performance in the recent Fiba World Cup, Marc Pingris warned Gilas Pilipinas can't afford to be complacent heading to its campaign in the Incheon Asian Games.
Pingris said the Asiad won’t be a picnic since, unlike the world championship, their opponents in Incheon are already familiar with Gilas, taking away the element of surprise that has worked to the Filipinos' advantage in Seville, Spain.
“Oo, sa World Cup, malalakas dun ang mga kalaban, pero siguro dahil di lang tayo na-scout. Pero sa Asian Games, nakalaro na natin sila eh, so lahat mahirap din kalabanin,” said the 32-year-old forward, who averaged 4.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in the World Cup.
The Philippines will be playing in Group E during the preliminary and will face teams such as powerhouse Iran and the squad that will top Group B after the qualifiers.
Although it limped home with a 1-4 (win-loss) record in the world championship, Gilas Pilipinas gave traditional basketball powers Argentina, Croatia, and Puerto Rico a run for their money, losing to all three teams by an average margin of 3.6 points.
The national team went on and registered its first victory in the world meet after four decades by edging out Senegal in overtime, 81-79, in its final preliminary game, a morale-boosting win that should augur well for Gilas’ confidence heading to the Asiad.
Still, Pingris cautioned his teammates not to be carried away by the World Cup high, stressing Gilas should learn a thing or two from Spain’s shock quarterfinal exit in the same world championship meet.
Despite being bannered by six NBA players led by brothers Paul and Marc Gasol, the host team bowed to France, 65-52, in the quarterfinals.
“Kapag lumaki ulo mo, baka matulad tayo sa Spain nung matalo sa France. Tapos, kapag natalo ka, dun mo lang mare-realize. Kaya dapat isipin natin lahat ng makakalaban dito malalakas,” he added.
The many-time member of the PBA All-Defensive team is shrugging off a sprained ankle and a painful left Achilles heel just to be able to play again for flag and country and help the Philippines end a 52-year gold medal drought in the Asiad.
“Nandito na tayo eh (Asian Games). Ayaw ko naman mag-absent sa Asian Games kaya gagawin natin lahat para makuha ang gold. Basta puhunan natin eh trabaho lang naman lagi, hard work lang ang magbibigay ng panalo sa atin,” said Pingris, who suffered the pair of injuries during the World Cup.
“Kailangan lang talaga magtulungan. Eh `yung mga point guards namin injured. So kailangang doblehin ang effort namin, at ganun din sa mga big men, doblehin namin trabaho namin.”