Marc Pingris moves closer to return as he joins Star Hotshots in scrimmage
Star forward Marc Pingris is far from top form, but is pleased with the improvement so far. Karlo Sacamos

THE remaining unbeaten team in the PBA Governors’ Cup is about to get better as Marc Pingris has moved a step closer to his return at Star after being sidelined for almost half a year due to a hip injury.

The Hotshots welcomed their star forward, who joined his team in a controlled scrimmage setting for the first time on Monday, weeks after undergoing a one-month rehabilitation in the US.

“Masaya ako na at least, kahit papaano, nakakatakbo na ako, nakakasabay na rin ako sa kanila,” Pingris said in a chat with SPIN.ph after practice.

“Yun nga lang, wala pa sa timing, wala pa sa kundiyson,” he was quick to add. “So ang ginagawa ko is pagkatapos ng practice, uuwi tapos nagwo-work out sa bahay, kung ano yung tinuro ng doctor namin, mga PT namin sa America, ginagawa ko din dito para dere-deretso.”

Hotshots coach Chito Victolero, though, played down Pingris’ return, saying he still can’t play in the Hotshots’ first game back after a long break on Wednesday night against Phoenix.

“I think he needs more time dun sa basketball timing niya, yung rhythm ng laro,” Victolero said. “Maganda naman yung ensayo niya, so hopefully makasama namin siya as soon as possible.”

“Makalaro siya ngayong elimination, bago matapos,” he assured. “Depende sa kanya.”

Pingris is targeting next week the earliest regarding his return.

“Baka next week o next two weeks,” the 35-year-old power forward said. “Basta ayaw ko yung…kasi alam ko mangangapa ako dyan pag balik ko eh. Nandyan din yung gigil, yung timing mo, wala. Depende sa i-ensayo ko. Basta ayaw ko lang talaga ibigla.”

Pingris credited his full recovery to the rehab sessions he did in Los Angeles where Star physiotherapist Nick Ocampo accompanied him.

“Nakatulong yun, kasi nung nandito ako ng dalawang buwan, halos hindi ako makalakad eh,” Pingris admitted. “Nakita talaga (doon) kung san nanggagaling yung sakit niya."

"Kasi sobrang hi-tech sa America eh," he added. "Gagalaw ka, makikita nila yung muscle na hindi gumagana. Ang daming camera kung saan kami nagwo-work out ni Nick. Yung treadmill, may camera. Wala dito nun.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos