San Mig Coffee’s Marc Pingris eyes to be the best stopper for yearsBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines—There is no glamor in defense, but versatile bigman Marc Pingris doesn’t mind that at all.
With San Mig Coffee already loaded with firepower, Pingris has no problems locking his focus on an, oftentimes, less glorified defensive job.
“Iniisip ko kasi andyan na offense nila James (Yap) at PJ (Simon), so defense pinaghihirapan ko,” said Pingris in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
And under-multititled coach Tim Cone, the defensive role Pingris is trying to embrace never goes unnoticed—and even yearned for.
Cone, on the Mixers’ 82-78 victory Wednesday night, even recalled calling a timeout just to yell at his five on the floor about a defensive lapse.
“I screamed at them, that was the last play in the third quarter when Willie (Miller) went all the way and our defense didn’t react,” said Cone.
And there’s no better person to trust to halt the other team’s best offensive option than San Mig’s best defensive guy.
“Ping did a great job of bringing us back in. He’s the best defender in the league,” said Cone of Pingris. “What makes him special is he can guard anybody.”
Starting from the catquick backcourt up to the bulky frontline, Pingris can do a solid job of keeping guard—and it’s something he’s specifically works on.
“Pumupunta talaga ako sa gym, tumaktakbo ako every night at after practice, kasi kailangan bumilis ako. Pinaghihirapan ko naman at pinag-aaralan ko rin,” said Pingris.
“May goal talaga ako sa buhay na gusto ko kumuha ng maraming award na (best) defensive player,” he added.
Having to fire on all cylinders to carry the scoring, then go back down quick on defense on the other end is twice as gruelling, and not all players are up for that grind.
Definitely not Pingris, though.
“Maraming player na malakas sa offense pero pag walang defense, ’di pinaglalaro ng mga coach. So dun ako nakafocus,” Pingris shared.
“Andun na din kasi yung height ko, nakakakuha ng rebounds, nakakadepensa ng maliit, so sayang naman kung ’di ko pag-aaralan.”
This passion of Pingris, who has been in the PBA all-defensive team five times, to stand out for his defensive contribution, for Cone, makes him a rare breed of player.
“One of those rare players who challenge himself by who he’s guarding,” said Cone.
“He gets excited on who he guards. If you challenge him with a defensive match-up he respects, he’s all over the court and you see his game change—even in the offense and rebounding.”
Miller still scattered nine of total points in the fourth quarter, but failed to nail the crucial go-ahead bucket with Pingris shadowing his every step.
The 31-year-old forward finished with a team-best 17 points, along with whopping 16 boards, two assists and steal that night.
And even Pingris owes his defense for his great scoring night.
“Darating naman offense kung maganda defense,” Pingris finished.