ONE of the pillars of Purefoods’ 2014 grand slam team has just been taken down.
Big man Marc Pingris announced his retirement in the PBA after a colorful 16-year career, highlighted by his major role in helping the now Magnolia Hotshots complete a season sweep of all three conferences seven years ago.
The 39-year-old forward dubbed ‘Pinoy Sakuragi’ made the announcement on his social media platform on Tuesday night.
"16 years na din ako sa PBA pero alam ko na ngayon na ang tamang panahon para umpisahan ang bagong chapter ng buhay ko," Pingris said in a long post on his Instagram account.
Pingris' announcement made him the second of the team's once so-called 'Big Three' to retire in succession after Peter June Simon last year. Only two-time MVP James Yap remains active out of the formidable trio.
The architect of that rare grand slam, coach Tim Cone, was part of the many people Pingris mentioned as those responsible for helping him win a total of nine championships, becoming a two-time Finals MVP, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, an eight-time All-Defensive Team, a three-time Second Mythical Team, a Most Improved Player, a 15-time All Star, and member of the 40 Greatest PBA Players of all time.
"Coach Tim, it's because of you that I grew to understand the sport as more than a game. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to become part of history with our 2014 grandslam," said one of Gilas Pilipinas' heroes during the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup in Manila. "I am proud to have played the game we both love with you."
The native of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan looked back to the year 2004 when his name was first called as the no. 3 overall pick in the draft.
"Doon nagsimulang matupad ang pangarap ng isang batang palengke," added Pingris, who had been vocal about his humble beginnings working in the wet market in his native province during his childhood days.
His immediate family including his Mama, Ate, and Kuya, were the foremost he thanked for after believing and supporting him all the way, along with other promiment names who were there when he was just starting, among them Mayor Morden and former basketball team manager and movie producer Jessie Chua.
He also mentioned Air21 and owner Bert Lina for drafting and welcoming him to the team during his early years as a pro, and then expressed his gratitude to the coaches he played for, such as Boyzie Zamar and Johnny Tam, Leo Austria, Siot Tanquingcen, Ryan Gregorio, Chot Reyes, Jorge Gallent, Jason Webb, and Chito Victolero.
Of course, there were also his teammates, members of coaching staff, utilities, Doc Raffy, Nick, RC, trusted Purefoods liason officer Jojo Peralta, and Reena Dimaculangan, who Pingris called as the 'muse of Purefoods.'
Pingris also thanked Purefoods team manager Alvin Patrimonio, long-time governor Rene Pardo, and most especially SMC bosses including the late Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, Ramon S. Ang, Alfrancis Chua, and Butch Alejo.
Special mention too, was his long-time manager Ed Ponceja, who he referred to as 'tumayong pangalawang ama ko.'
Then there was his Gilas family, the PBA fans, members of the covering media, and his fans club Tropang Pingris.
Certainly not the least, are his children Mic and Caela, to the Sotto family, including father in-law comedian and TV host Vic Sotto and mother in-law actress Dina Bonnevie, his Papi and Mamita, and to the love of his life, actress and host Danica.
"Thank you for your love. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made for me and our family. Thank you for staying beside me, for pushing me to work harder and never gave up. I love you," said Ping of his lovely wife.
"Higit sa lahat, salamat Lord Go sa pag gabay at sa lahat ng blessings," he added.
Ping ended the post with the hashtag #pinoysakuragi15signingoff.