MARC Pingris, the acknowledged energizer of the Gilas Pilipinas teams that made waves in the Fiba-Asia championships and World Cup, is in doubt for the next edition of the national side under Tab Baldwin as he leaves for an emergency trip to his father's homeland.
Pingris said he is set to leave with his family for France on Tuesday, a day before members of the latest incarnation of Gilas converge for practice ahead of the 2015 Fiba-Asia championships in China, to be with his father's family after the death of the mother of his stepmom.
The longtime Gilas standout said he booked the trip days ago but only got the invitation to join the new Gilas pool from Baldwin on Saturday.
"May emergency flight ako sa France sa (July) 28th eh. Kailangan kong pumunta roon kasi namatay ang mother nung stepmother ko. Hinihintay ako ng father ko," said Pingris.
The veteran Star forward admitted he had long waited for the invitation from Baldwin and booked the trip for his family when no invitation came. Pingris said he has also informed Commissioner Chito Salud about his travel plans a long time ago.
"Matagal ko nang hinihintay 'yung invitation nila kaso kahapon lang sila tumawag. Sa totoo lang, bago pa mag-finals (PBA Governors Cup Finals) lang ako nagpa-book ng flight namin ng family ko," he said.
"Sinabi ko na rin kay Commissioner 'yan. Matagal na. Naghintay ako kaso ang tagal ng advice," he added.
And before fans point an accusing finger at San Miguel Corp., Pingris said he has gotten the green light from SMC big bosses to rejoin Gilas if he is called up.
Pingris added he will never turn his back on flag and country.
"Sa totoo lang, pinayagan ako ng San Miguel management na bumalik sa Gilas. Ako rin gustong gusto ko kasi para sa bayan 'yan eh. Ako pa ba ang uurong dyan?" added the pride of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan.
The news comes as another blow for Gilas, coming just five days after San Miguel superstar and reigning PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo told Spin.ph that he is doubtful for the national team owing to plantar fasciitis on both his feet.
Without Fajardo and Pingris, Gilas will be left without two starters from the team that took part in the last Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain.
Pingris said he has informed Baldwin about his situation. As per the conversation, the Hotshots star said he was told his spot may be given to somebody else if he can't come back from France by August 3.
"Nakausap ko na rin si coach Tab, sabi niya kung di daw ako makaka-abot sa practice sa August 3 yata, bibigyan niya ng chance yung ibang players," he said.
Pingris said he will leave the decision to the Gilas coaching staff, but made it clear he wouldn't want to bump off another player from the Gilas roster.
"Sa akin naman, kung mahihintay pa nila ko sa pagbabalik ko sa August 12, willing pa rin ako maglaro. Pine-presenta mo ang Pilipinas. Kaso kung hindi na ako makakabalik at naibigay na sa ibang player, hindi na ako makikigulo," he said.
"Kung kaya nila ako hintayin, okay sa akin 'yun. Pero kung nag-ensayo na sila at naibigay na sa iba, pangit naman na agawin ko pa. Pero 'yun nga, parang malabo na na mahintay nila ako," he said.
Pingris vowed to stay in top shape while in France, saying he plans to do daily roadwork in the mountain ranges of Normandy, France during his two-week stay there.
"Hindi bakasyon yung lakad ko dun ha. Makikiramay ako sa pamilya ng tatay ko," he insisted.
"Baka isipin na naman ng iba hindi kami pinapayagan ng San Miguel. Nagka-problema lang talaga 'yung schedule. Biglaan yung alis ko, alam naman ni coach Tab yun eh," Pingris declared.
Star returns to practice on August 14.
Listen to interview with Pingris in this podcast: