MARC Pingris refused to believe that South Korea’s stunning 118-86 win over Gilas Pilipinas in the FIba Asia Cup was purely due to luck, saying payback and playing style factored in the South Koreans’ near-flawless performance that denied the Philippines of a semifinal stint.
Everything seemed to be going in for the South Koreans on that fateful night as the Filipinos; perennial continental rivals shot a once-in-a-blue-moon 76.2 percent from beyond the arc (16-of-21) and 66.7% from the field overall.
“Sa akin, hindi swerte yun,” Pingris insisted in a chat with SPIN.ph after Star practice. “Talagang ganun sila maglaro – mas gusto nilang maglaro sa labas kesa sa loob, ‘di ba?”
“Talaga namang pinaghandaan nila siguro tayo dahil nung tinalo natin sila, talagang nakakahiya din sa kanila yun,” added the former Gilas stalwart, a vital cog in the Filipino dribblers’ 86-79 win over Korea in the semifinals of the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship in Manila.
Deprived of ample training time and a naturalized player that’s fit for coach Chot Reyes’ dribble-drive offense also didn’t help Gilas, Pingris believes.
“Pag kumpleto tayo dyan, malamang maganda yung laban dyan,” Pingris said. “Dikit lang naman yung laban, nung third and fourth lang naman talaga sila nag-(pull away). Kaya natin yan. Kami kasi dati, matagal kaming nag-practice as a team eh; ang dami naming pinuntahang bansa bago kami sumabak. Eh sila, wala masyadong scrimmage, so hindi pa ganun ka-quality yung pagsasama nila.”
“Sa team, yung timing sa isa’t-isa lang naman talaga nag kukunin mo dyan eh,” he added. “Kailangan malaman mo kung ano 'yung amoy ng kaibigan or ng teammate mo, ‘di ba, bago kayo sumabak sa laro.”
And with the uncertainty of Andray Blatche’s availability in future tournaments, Pingris is hoping Gilas can find a naturalized player who not only has the height for rebounding, but the touch from the outside.
“Ang Fiba kasi talagang matatangkad (ang player), so kailangan matangkad talaga makuha natin – matangkad na tumitira sa labas,” Pingris said. “Para pwede niyang ilabas kung sino man ang babantay sa kanya. Like number one, (Hamed) Haddadi, sinong babantay sa kanya – at sinong babantayan ni Haddadi para mailabas siya kung sakaling shooter na big guy?
“Yun ang kailangan atin eh, kasi marami naman tayo, mabibilis naman yun mga guards natin,” he added. “Kailangan may katulong pa si Japeth (Aguilar) at June Mar (Fajardo) na malaki na may tira pa sa labas at medyo mabilis.”
Pingris suggested the Hotshots’ Commissioner’s Cup import, Ricardo Ratliffe, as a good fit for Gilas, but the country will also have to take on Korea in that aspect as the latter has already been eyeing Ratliffe as a naturalized player candidate.
Despite Gilas’ seventh-place finish in the reformatted Asian championships, Pingris still tipped his hat to the national team for putting up a gallant stand despite the preparations that were far from ideal.
“Congrats pa rin dahil binigay naman nila best nila,” Pingris said. “Mahirap naman talaga yung sitwasyon nila eh: wala tayong import at ilang buwan lang sila nag-practice as a team, yung iba, may game sa PBA , and then magpa-practice, hindi sila buo.
“Masusukli lang natin dyan is yung pagpe-pray tsaka yung pagsaludo, tsaka yung pag-suporta natin sa kanila,” he added.