MARC Pingris is the first to admit the road to a fifth straight PBA title won’t be easy for grand slam champion Purefoods, especially with the Hotshots needing to win twice just to survive the first round of the Philippine Cup playoffs.
But the energetic forward promised that once the team makes it as far as the semifinals, it has a very good chance of reaching the Finals.
“Di ko alam kung nawawala ba yung gigil, pero promise, malagpasan lang namin itong quarterfinals at umabot kami sa semis, promise talaga, makaka-abot din kami sa finals,” Pingris boldly told Spin.ph.
The 33-year-old national team member said Monday’s practice included a talk with multi-titled coach Tim Cone as the Hotshots map out what they need to do for the playoffs.
But Pingris was quick to add that for the Hotshots, the playoffs start on Tuesday when they face Barako Bull Energy in the final playdate of the eliminations.
“Ang sinasabi ni coach Tim sa amin na 50-50 ang lahat ng games namin, kaya kailangan talagang pagtulungan namin lahat,” he said.
“Alam namin na mahirap talaga ito, pero step by step lang muna.”
The Hotshots could have been in a better position as part of the Top 6 of the standings with a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals had they taken care of business in their last two games.
Unfortunately, the team fell to a rampaging Rain or Shine side, 83-74, before bowing to Talk ‘N Text, 100-96, in overtime.
Sophomore forward Ian Sangalang’s conference-ending partial ACL tear in his knee, along with Pingris’ three-game leave of absence, contributed to the team’s 1-3 start in the all-Filipino conference.
Although the Hotshots managed to win four straight games, it was obvious the loss of the versatile 6-foot-6 Sangalang affected the team’s campaign.
“Di naman natin kagustuhan na mawala si Ian, pero para sa aming lahat, kailangan talaga naming mag-adjust. Ngayon, kailangan naming gawin yung ginagawa namin dati,” said the native of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan.
Pingris feels the late entry of veteran forward Mick Pennisi can give the Hotshots a timely boost.
“Malaking tulong talaga si Mick, siyempre, beterano na siya saka may shooting din,” he said. “Di naman malaking adjustment sa kanya (Pennisi), kasi nagra-run din naman ang Barako Bull ng triangle (offense).”