TAIPEI - Marc Pingris is no stranger to Gilas, but he still has to find the time to familiarize himself with the new system put in place by national coach Tab Baldwin.
Left with no time to waste after coming in late for the national team's buildup for the 2015 Fiba Asia championship, the Star forward is putting in the extra effort to learn the plays and system Baldwin has put in place during the time that he was away.
Gamay ko na nang konti, pero hindi pa 100 percent. Kumportable na naman ako," said Pingris at the end of Gilas' morning practice on Sunday, hours before its Jones Cup debut against host Chinese Taipei.
Pingris had joined the Gilas pool late after a trip to France to be with his dad's family after the death of his stepmother's mother. He admits still playing catch-up up until this point and sometimes still gets lost in the scheme of things.
No wonder he's like a schoolkid preparing for a final exam in between rest at the Chateau de Chine where the whole Jones Cup contingent is billeted.
"Nandun 'yung kapa-kapa ka pa. Pinag-aaralan ko bago matulog, sinusulat ko yung mga plays, nilalagay ko sa isip ko. Pag gising ko, remind ko lang sarili ko lahat 'yun," said Gilas' energizer bunny.
His roommate, Dondon Hontiveros, has been a big help, too.
"S'ya tumutulong sa akin. Sinusulat din n'ya mga plays," Pingris said of his fellow veteran.
The sooner Pingris gets a grasp of Baldwin's system, the better for Gilas which needs the Star forward more than ever following Andrey Blatche's departure for the US on Saturday for the funeral of his uncle.
Baldwin has also made it clear he will play the many-time national player a lot in this tournament, just to know how he will fit in before the team's campaign in the Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China next month.
Pingris said he's ready.
"Nandito naman tayo para ibigay best natin, kahit nagkakaroon tayo ng small problem dahil kay (Blatche)," said Pingris, who is playing in his third Jones Cup - and his first with the national team.
"Nalungkot din kami, kasi kailangan din namin itong tournament na ito para sa Fiba-Asia natin. Pero accept na natin yun. Kung namatayan ka, diba? Kaya suportahan na lang natin siya."