THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is keeping its fingers crossed that Marc Pingris’ change of heart would just be the start of something good.
Although tempering expectations, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios believes nothing is impossible especially after Pingris broke the barrier by agreeing to reconsider his earlier plan and finally joined Gilas Pilipinas.
“Hope springs eternal,” was Barrios’ curt reply when asked if he thinks Pingris’ decision would snowball and convince fellow players from the San Miguel Corp. group such as LA Tenorio and June Mar Fajardo to hop into the bandwagon.
Barrios said the 6-foot-3 Pingris coming on board will definitely be a big boost to the national team’s campaign in the coming Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Changsha, China.
“A most welcome development,” said Barrios of the latest development within the Gilas camp that has been recently marred by injuries and players’ withdrawal.
The SBP executive stressed the intangibles Pingris always bring to the table, most especially his passion of playing the game best exemplifying Gilas’ well-known dictum ‘PUSO.’
“Ping always plays his heart out every time he steps on the court especially for flag and country,” added Barrios.
On Wednesday, Pingris said he’s changed his mind and will finally suit up for the national team after his earlier pronouncement that he’s skipping playing for Gilas by citing family, health, and professional concerns as his reasons.
He even personally visited the national team during its Saturday practice at the Meralco gym to inform coach Tab Baldwin about his decision.
But following a talk with management of Star Hotshots, Pingris admitted being prevailed upon to reconsider his plans.
“Purefoods management has asked me to reconsider my decision, I talked to my wife and we agreed. In the end, it was pride and honor in representing the Philippines that prevailed over me,” said Pingris in a statement.
By now, Barrios said Baldwin could have already been informed about Pingris’ desire to rejoin Gilas, but would rather not speculate on what moves the American-New Zealander mentor would take as the nationals are currently in Estonia playing in a four-team pocket tournament.
Prior to Pingris’ personal visit, Baldwin has already given a deadline for players included in the national training pool to start attending its daily training once Gilas returns from the Estonia tournament.
Other than Pingris, Tenorio and Fajardo are the other players in the 16-man pool who haven’t attended practice yet.
“If we don’t get anybody in by the time we get back from Estonia, to me it’s counterproductive to bring in anybody at that point,” said the veteran coach.