MARC Pingris heaved a sigh of relief as Purefoods took Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series against Talk ‘N Text even after the defensive stalwart went down with an injury on Wednesday night.
Tasked to defend Tropang Texters import Ivan Johnson, Pingris fared admirably as the hardworking Purefoods forward limited him to just five points, forcing him to miss six of his eight shots, including all three triples in the first half.
Not until Pingris suffered a sprained left ankle when he tripped on teammate Joe Devance’s foot on his way back to defense with just four minutes gone by in the second half, did Johnson find it easier to score on the way to 28 markers.
“Sayang nga eh, pero mabuti na lang nanalo,” Pingris said after the 100-94 victory.
Rafi Reavis and import Denzel Bowles took turns defending Johnson in the second half, but coach Tim Cone knows Pingris is his best defensive option against the high-scoring Talk 'N Text import.
“He’s so crucial to our matchups defensively,” Cone said of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Pingris said he wanted to return to the game, but the pain was simply too much.“Gusto kong sana bumalik kaso nung pagkatayo ko, masakit talaga eh,” he said.
However, he vowed to be back when Game Two of the best-of-five playoff is played on Sunday.
“Kaya 'yan next game. Siguradong makakalaro ako,” said the 33-year-old cager as the Hotshots go on a break on Maundy Thursday before going back to practice on Good Friday.