MARC Pingris had only a few wishes for his birthday.
“Good health lang naman at walang injury sa game, at mag-champion ulit,” the Star forward smiled in a short chat with Spin.ph on Saturday after practice, a day after he turned 34.
Pingris, more than a year removed from his last championship, is well aware it will take a lot more than just prayers for his last wish to come true.
After all, the Hotshots are embarking on a whole new journey under a rookie coach in Jason Webb, who is trying to fill the big shoes of predecessor Tim Cone.
“Syempre naninibago kami dahil new coach at new system,” Pingris, an eight-time league champion said. “Pero kailangan namin maglaro para sa pamilya namin eh, so gagawin namin ulit yung kailangan naming gawin: kailangan namin magtrabaho.”
“Nakukuha ko na yung sistema ni coach Jason, pero hindi pa hundred percent,” added the 11-year veteran, who played under Cone's triangle offense for four years. “May mga bagay pa talaga na gapang pa ako.”
It’s understandable as Pingris has had only three full practices under Webb, having been with Gilas Pilipinas for a month before that.
“Marami pa ako kailangan i-adjust sa kanya at sa mga rookie and sa mga teammate ko,” said the 6-foot-4 big man, who leads a frontline that saw an upgrade with the addition of Jake Pascual and rookie Norbert Torres.
Pingris will have to assert his leadership right away as the Hotshots take on a physical Rain or Shine squad on Sunday.
“Hindi naman mawawala sa kanila yung physical game eh,” Pingris said. “Kilala naman natin sila: laging agresibo sa pag-score, so kailangan agresibo rin yung defense namin.”