PUREFOODS forward Marc Pingris said being included on the list of the PBA's 40 Greatest Players was an honor he never dreamed of when he entered the league 15 years ago.
And he was humble enough to admit two-time league Most Valuable Player Danny Ildefonso served as his biggest inspiration who had a profound impact on his playing career.
“Siya (Ildefonso) ang dahilan bakit ako nasa PBA,” said Pingris of fellow Pangasinense Ildefonso, who like him, will be honored by the league as the newest additions to the list of greatest players in its 40-year existence.
“Dahil sa kanya gusto ko siyang gayahin kaya nandito ako.”
The Gilas Pilipinas mainstay recalled watching Ildefonso and his other basketball idols Benjie Paras and Romel Adducul way back during his college days as a skinny 6-foot-5 center.
“Nagpapasalamat (ako) sa mga idols ko, sinundan ko yapak nila, sila Benjie, Danny I, at Romel Adducul. Lalong lalo na si Lakay (Ildefonso).
“At dahil sa kanila, pinaghirapan ko rin para matupad ko rin yung pangarap ko.”
Paras was also a two-time league MVP like Ildefonso, while Adducul was a dominant figure in the NCAA and the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) before deciding to jump ship to the PBA.
Pingris spent one season playing with Ildefonso at San Miguel during the 2008-09 season, before being traded to Purefoods, where he eventually established a name for himself, alongside close buddy James Yap.
The 33-year-old Pingris, a seven-time All-Defensive team member, encourages aspiring PBA players to combine talent with hardwork and heart, three factors which he said helped him achieve success in his pro career.
“Hardwork lang naman ang puhunan ko dito eh (in his PBA career). Nandiyan na yung talent pero kailangan may puso ka talaga,” he said.
“At masaya ako at nagpapasalamat kay Lord dahil binigyan niya ako ng talent.”