Pingris grateful for Magnolia's new contract offer despite ACL injury, sheds tears on Hotshots tribute
Marc Pingris may not be able to attend the semis battle between Magnolia and NLEX but vows to be there if the Hotshots advance to the finals: 'Kahit pa naka-wheelchair ako, pupunta ako.' Jerome Ascano

SOMEHOW Marc Pingris’ concern is lessened to a certain degree.

Fresh from surgery for an ACL injury that will keep him out for the rest of the PBA season, Pingris said he appreciates the offer of Magnolia management to renew his contract with the franchise notwithstanding his projected comeback won’t be until the league’s 44th season.

The contract of the player from Pozzorubio, Pangasinan will end in August this year.

But just hours after undergoing operation at the St. Luke’s hospital, team board of governors Rene Pardo said Pingris is ‘good as signed’ next year.

“Pababayaan ba namin yan,” Pardo intimated just before Game Three of the Philippine Cup semifinals series between Magnolia and NLEX.

Told about it, Pingris was almost emotional as he expressed how grateful he is to management of the franchise that has been home to him for more than a decade.

“Siyempre naa-appreciate mo yung mga ganyang bagay. It means ganun yung respeto nila sa akin, at siyempre, sobrang respeto ko rin naman sa kanila (management),” said Pingris in a late Friday night chat with SPIN.ph

“Kahit papaano nababawasan yung iniisip mo di ba,” added the 36-year-old Magnolia vet who will be 37 when he could make his comeback in the next edition of the season-opening conference a year from now. “Hindi na rin naman tayo bata. Biruin mo six to eight months kang mawawala.”

The 13-time All-Star remains in an immobilizer, which he will continue to wear for the next two weeks. He’s scheduled for a check-up with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Canlas on Wednesday.

“Wala, puro tulog at rest lang,” he said when asked what keeps him busy while recuperating from the injury he suffered in the opener of the Hotshots’ semis series last week.

This is the second time Pingris went down with an ACL injury in 18 years after also hurting the same left knee while still with the Philippine Youth team in 2000.

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And he recalled how it was difficult for him to recover back them.

“Mag-isa lang ako sa quarters noon (Rizal Memorial), kaya halos ako lang talaga nag-alaga sa sarili ko,” he related.

Operating an ACL back then also took hours to complete.

“Dati more than two hours ang operation kasi talagang hihiwain ka,” noted Pingris. “Ngayon 25 to 30 minutes na lang halos.”

“Tapos walang-wala rin naman ako noon. Kaya malaking pasalamat ko kay Doc Canlas kasi inoperahan niya ako ng halos libre hanggang sa therapy,” he added of the celebrated sports doctor, who later on would become his wedding godfather.

Now, he has his entire family to lean on, most especially wife Danica.

“Ngayon may mga taong umaalalay na sa iyo. Kaya sobrang pasalamat ko sa kanila, lalo na kay Danica,” said the veteran forward. “Panay nga sorry ko dahil halos lahat siya na ang gumagawa, pero very understanding yang wife ko na yan.”

And then, there’s his ‘other family,’ – the Hotshots.

Pingris admitted shedding tears when he saw on TV the entire Magnolia team wearing a small patch on the upper side of their playing uniform bearing his jersey no. 15.

“Nung tinatawag na sila isa-isa, sabi ko bakit may patch yung mga ito sa jersey nila. Tapos nung sinabi nga sa akin na parang tribute nila sa akin yun, umiyak talaga ako bro. Pinatay ko agad yung TV,” Ping said with a laugh.

“Pero di rin ako nakatiis. Pinanood ko pa rin yung game. And sobrang proud ako, dahil ang ganda ng nilaro nila kaya nanalo kami.”

In as much as he wanted to watch the rest of the semifinals live – currently tied at 2-2, his condition wouldn’t allow him so, admitting his operated knee is still swollen and hurting from time to time.

“Grabe ang kirot, pumipintig,” he said in describing how he feels. “At tsaka manas pa yung paa ko, so hindi pa talaga kaya.”

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Hopefully, the Hotshots reach the finals of the all-Filipino conference, by which time Pingris vows to be at the venue and personally cheer his team.

“Kahit pa naka-wheelchair ako, pupunta ako run para panoorin sila,” said the ‘Pinoy Sakuragi.’

It’s the Hotshots’ turn to live up to the challenge of their fallen comrade.    

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos