STAR forward Marc Pingris admitted he is aware that trade speculations have started to swirl, shortly after he got the go-signal to rejoin the Gilas Pilipinas pool ahead of the Fiba Asia championship.
Pingris has long been an 'untouchable' in a Star team he helped lead to six PBA championships including a grand slam in 2014, but rumors have persisted that he's no longer on the 'protected list' since rejoining Gilas.
True or not, Pingris said he got wind of the rumors.
"May ano rin naman (may naririnig ako)," Pingris told Spin.ph. "Hindi natin alam eh, di ba? Baka may mga sulsol dyan na sinisiraan ako. Pero hindi ko sinasabi na baka meron ha. Baka lang. Baka naninira lang sa akin."
Pingris, speaking after he joined Tab Baldwin's Gilas team in practice for the first time, declared that he is only answering the call of the flag, something that he believes every Filipino should do.
"Eh naglalaro lang naman ako para sa bayan natin, hindi naman para kay (Gilas patron) MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) or sa San Miguel eh," said the pride of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan.
"Naglalaro ako para sa bayan natin."
Pingris' agent, Ed Ponceja, also confirmed getting wind of rumors saying his ward is on the trading block. Experience also told him that when one player gets involved in trade rumors, chances are it is true.
"Nadidinig ko (may ganun nga raw), sometimes (yung ganyan kasi totoo)," Ponceja said.
Asked if he afraid of Pingris getting traded by the Hotshots to another team, the longtime player agent did not mince any word in explaining his answer in Ilocano.
"Bakit naman kami matatakot? Normal lang 'yan, lakay. Awan met ti choice ti player nu kada ka i-trade, awan met ti maaramid mu, di ba?(Bakit naman kami matatakot? Normal lang 'yan, lakay. Wala namang choice ang player, kung mate-trade. Wala kang magagawa run, di ba?)" he said.
"Ti importante is adda kontratam, makappan ka dya napintas nga team. Kasdyay, di ba? Haan ak madanaggan gamin adda talent dyi ubing. Madanaggan ka nu yu dyi ubing, dyi player, awan talent nya, di ba? (Ang importante eh may kontrata ka, makakapunta ka pa sa maganda team. Ganun, di ba? Hindi ako natatakot dahil may talent ang bata. Matakot ka kung yung bata mo eh walang talent, di ba?)" Ponceja added.
"I always tell that to my players, matakot ka kung wala kang talent. Pero kung alam mong may talent ka, what will you be afraid of? You are normally hired to be fired, di ba? Trabaho lang 'yan eh."
Granting the reports are true, Ponceja said he believes other teams will be interested in the Gilas mainstay.
"I know na mayroon pa siyang future, di ba? Whether you like it or not, Pingris is Pingris. Matagal pa carer niyan, pwede pa 'yang mga lima, pito o sampung (taon). Ubing pay data (Bata pa yan)," he said, taking pride in Pingris' self-discipline.
"Ang player kung disiplinado ka, talagang tatagal ka pa. Disiplinado naman 'yan eh," he added.
Both Pingris and Ponceja insisted no one from Star or its mother company, San Miguel Corporation, has approached them regarding any trade.
"Wala pa naman, wala namang management, wala naman silang nasasabi," said Ponceja.
Pingris also cast doubts on rumors saying he incurred the ire of San Miguel officials, primarily SMC big boss Ramon S. Ang, because of his statements shortly after his France trip with his family.
He is also certain Ang won't stand in the way of any San Miguel Corp. player wishing to play for Gilas.
"Hindi mawawala ang patriotism nyan. Pilipino rin siya eh (boss RSA)," said Pingris, vowing to make Ang proud of him if he makes the Gilas tram to the Fiba Asia championships next month.
"Magiging proud din siya, alam ko magiging proud din siya (sa akin)," he said.
At the same time, Pingris said he is hoping to get the chance to talk to Ang soon.
"Baka may mga nasagap na balita dati. So wala akong magagawa dun. Wala akong sinasabing ganun, kung meron man. Basta ako naniniwala ako mabait si boss (RSA) at di kami pipigilan nun (na maglaro sa Gilas)," he said.
"Gusto ko nga siyang (RSA) kausapin para ma-explain pero parang wala namang nagbibigay ng time para makausap ko siya eh," Pingris concluded.