AS one of the most recognizable faces in Gilas Pilipinas, Marc Pingris expressed the hope that the ongoing rumblings in Philippine basketball will come to pass, saying there is so much at stake for the country.
Speaking during the launch of the Black Mamba energy drink which he endorses, Pingris said he hopes the widening rift between the PBA and Gilas officials as well as the upheaval within the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas won't affect the national team program.
In the face of the conflict, the country's participation in the Olympic wildcard qualfiers in July is still hanging in the balance.
“Sana magawan nila ng paraan, makapag-usap sila ng maayos. Sobrang sayang ang opportunity na ito. Alam kong marami pa silang matutulungan na mga player,” Pingris told Spin.ph on Friday night at the Eastwood City event.
‘Ping’ cited the value of the Gilas Pilipinas program, not only for national pride but for the players themselves.
“Itong Gilas na ito, as a player nag-iimprove kami 'pag lumalaban kami sa ibang bansa. Kahit sinong player sa amin sa PBA nag-iimprove talaga iyan. Talagang malungkot kapag nawala itong opportunity na ito,” the 33-year old Star Hotshots big man said.
“Sino lalaban ngayon sa basketball natin?” he added.
Pingris was an integral part of Gilas' successful run in recent years. The fiery forward has been a part of the teams that won the silver medal in the 2013 and 2015 Fiba Asia as well as the first Philippine team that took part in the Fiba World Cup in 2014 in Spain after a 35-year absence.
“Sana magtuloy-tuloy at hindi mawala. Ako ang No. 1 na manghihinayang. Para sa bansa naman natin ito. Hindi dahil kay (SBP head) Mr. MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) lang or para sa pangalan niya. Hindi e. Ako na mismo nagsasabi para sa bansa natin iyun.”
The man who personifies the “Puso! (Heart!)” mantra of Gilas, Pingris recognizes not only the value the team provides in representing the country but the best venue in developing the country’s young players.
He cited rising stars Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva as glowing examples.
“Katulad ng sabi ni Asi (Taulava) nung nag-usap-usap kami, for example si (Terrence) Romeo at si Calvin (Abueva). Nakitaan niya ng future yung dalawa. Mas gagaling pa. Hindi lang dahil sa PBA kasi dito international yung mga makakalaban. Minsan may NBA na nakakalaro namin. Mas gumagaling ka.”