Marc Pingris plays down fight for Gilas spots: 'Kahit gawin akong practice player, okay lang'
Marc Pingris says he will support Gilas whether he makes the final lineup or not: “Ako, kahit hindi ako ma-lineup, nandun pa rin yung support ko sa kanila, sisigaw pa rin ako sa kanila. Kahit nga gawin akong practice player, okay lang sa akin eh,” he says. Jerome Ascano

GILAS Pilipinas won’t just be playing against Iran in a tune-up game on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Filipino dribblers will be fighting for spots in the 14-man lineup, which coach Tab Baldwin is set to announce after the friendly then bring to a three-week European swing, from which the Final 12 for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next month will likely come from.

Marc Pingris admitted the fight for spots will intensify in the tune-up against the Iranians, but insisted that making the final roster is the last thing on their minds.

“Siguro (mag-intensify), pero para sa akin, kung sino man yung mala-lineup, siguro susuportahan na lang bawat isa,” the workhorse forward said after their scrimmage against the Iranians on Tuesday.

“Ako, kahit hindi ako ma-lineup, nandun pa rin yung support ko sa kanila, sisigaw pa rin ako sa kanila. Kahit nga gawin akong practice player, okay lang sa akin eh,” the Star Hotshots representative added.

Pingris, Troy Rosario, Japeth Aguilar, and Ranidel de Ocampo are jockeying for the few forward spots up for grabs.

“Ang importante kasi dito ay kung sino talaga yung makakatulong sa team ngayon,” Pingris said. “Wag na tayong magpa-baby or sino yung mas magaling. Ang importante talaga dito yung makakatulong para sa bayan natin.

“Ready naman kami lahat eh,” he added. “Hindi kami nagpapataasan ng ihi dito para ma-lineup. Kailangan lang magtulungan.”

[See Who's in, who's out?']

Gilas, which slayed the Iranian ghost in last year’s Fiba Asia Championship, saw the taller Iranians outrebound the Filipino frontline, including the 6-foot-4 Pingris, in their scrimmage at Hoops Center.

Pingris promises a bigger fight on Wednesday.

“Sabi niya (Baldwin) na huwag kaming pa-baby dahil natalo namin sila dati, pero bukas talaga yung totoong laban,” Pingris said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos