SHOWING his heart still belongs to Gilas Pilipinas, Marc Pingris was a surprise visitor in the regular Monday night practice of the national team at the Meralco gym.
Wearing a Chicago Bulls shirt over khaki shorts, black sneakers, and black cap, the player who epitomized the team’s ‘Puso’ mantra in the past, arrived in the middle of the two-hour practice and immediately joined former partner Calvin Abueva, Mac Belo, Jayson Castro, and Arnold Van Opstal on the sideline to watch the rest of the players go through their paces.
He later approached and chatted with coach Chot Reyes.
“Na-miss ko rin yung pangalan ng Pilipinas kaya pumunta ako rito,” Pingris said afterwards, adding he has been planning to visit the Gilas practice from the start.
“Sabi ko kay coach dadaan ako, gusto ko silang makita, gusto ko ring mag-iwan ng message (sa team).”
The veteran forward of Star Hotshots admitted liking what he sees in his talk with Reyes, noting now the team has height and a lot of talent to pick from.
“Nung nag-usap kami ni coach Chot, ang sabi ko sa kanya OK yan marami kang bata at tsaka mas nadagdagan yung mga malalaki natin,” he said of his conversation with his former Gilas coach.
“Ang dami niyang pinagpipilian ngayon.”
Unlike his time with Gilas, Pingris sees this batch of national team having a longer time of preparing and training together as one.
“At least ngayong may time sila na mag-amuyan sa isa’t-isa, malaman nila yung laro nila sa isa’t-isa. So malaking bagay yun na may time sila,” said the native of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan.
Most importantly, he told the Gilas members, most especially the cadets, to take pride being part of the national team.
“Sinabi ko sa kanila na minsan lang dumating ang opportunity na ito kaya i-grab ninyo,” said Pingris.
“Mahirap, pero magiging proud yung mga batang tumitingin sa inyo na balang araw ay gusto ring maglaro sa Gilas.”