THE resounding voice behind “Laban, Pilipinas!” that draws the reply of “Puso!” from his teammates after every national team huddle has apparently made his final curtain call.
But Marc Pingris believes the newest incarnation of Gilas Pilipinas will have the same bark and develop a bite like they did in the past.
Among those notable national mainstays who were left out from the Gilas 5.0 pool, the Star forward insisted he is hardly a huge loss, saying the team is in good hands, especially with Calvin Abueva who typifies the same “heart over height” mantra that he has instilled.
“Hindi naman (ako malaking kawalan), dahil alam ko naman na nandyan si Calvin,” Pingris said in a chat with SPIN.ph after practice a day after national coach Chot Reyes announced the 12 players who completed the 24-man PBA pool. “Siya na rin 'yung parang pumalit sa akin.”
“Alam ko rin na lahat ng players na ito, magpapasiklab pag nandyan na yan,” he added. “Kasi alam naman natin na lahat ng Pilipino, tututok yan at susuporta, so kailangan lang hindi isang player – lahat sila (mag-step up).”
Apart from Pingris, fellow national veterans Ranidel de Ocampo and Gabe Norwood have also been excluded from the current pool, marking a new era for the national team.
“For me naman, mas okay na rin yung mga bata, kasi 2019 pa yun (World Cup), so pag dating ng time na yan, medyo may edad na,” the 35-year-old Pingris said. “So okay na talaga yung bata yung i-train nila.”
“Kami naman, siguro nabigay na rin namin 'yung best namin nung naglaro kami sa Gilas,” he added. “Wala na rin siguro masasabi yung mga Pilipino dahil ginawa talaga namin kahit mahirap.”
“So ito na – suportahan natin itong mga bagong player na papasok,” he continued. “Itong mga players na kinuha ni coach, ito yung mga future natin sa PBA at sa Gilas.”
Asked if there were any questionable choices in his eyes, Pingris said he trusts Reyes’ judgment, adding there was also a time when eyebrows were raised over their inclusion in the team.
“Sa akin, wala naman (questionable) kasi alam ni coach yun eh,” Pingris said. “Nung una naman, ganun din yung sinabi sa amin ng mga tao. Marami naman (doubters) eh, kahit sino naman.”
“Ang ginawa lang namin is pinatunayan namin,” he added. “Sobrang hirap talaga maglaro sa Gilas dahil malalaki yung kalaban niyo dyan tapos experienced pa, pero sabi nga ni coach, puso lang naman ang puhunan dyan eh. Wala namang sweldong malaki dyan, puso lang.”
And that’s the advice he wants to tell the new breed of Gilas.
“Practice lang at kung ano yung sinabi ni coach, kailangan tandaan, kasi focus ang importante dyan,” Pingris said. “Daig pa yung finals sa PBA, dahil yung finals, may pahinga ka. Pero dito, araw-araw yung laro. Kailangan focused tsaka kailangan ibigay nila lahat. Hindi para sa pangalan nila, kundi ng bansa natin.”
“Disiplina din sa mga player,” he added. “Kumabaga wag lalaki ang ulo 'yung mga kinuha. Stay humble.”