Gilas loses Pingris, too
THE HEART of ‘Puso!’ has also quit the national team.
A tearful Marc Pingris, the emotional leader of Gilas Pilipinas’ historic ride in the Fiba Asia championship two years ago, officially backed out of the national pool, personally informing coach Tab Baldwin of his decision during practice yesterday.
“Naintindihan naman ni coach yung rason ko (coach understood my reason),” Pingris told Inquirer.net. “Mahal ko talaga ang Gilas pero may bagay na di natin control. (I love Gilas but some things are beyond our control).”
The energetic Star forward, whose hustle and passion keyed a decisive victory over South Korea in the 2013 Asian championship that booked for the Philippines a berth in the World Cup last year, did not elaborate.
The loss of Pingris, who best epitomized the team’s “Puso!” (heart) battlecry, follows withdrawals by reigning league MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and the Ginebra pair of Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio.
Fajardo excused himself due to injuries in both feet, Aguilar underwent surgery for a broken finger while Tenorio cited fatigue.
Pingris was in tears as he explained his side to Baldwin. He stayed for about an hour in practice and talked to a handful of former Gilas teammates like Gary David, Jayson Castro and former Gilas skipper Jimmy Alapag.
Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas will play in the final eight days of the Jones Cup tournament that starts Aug. 29 in Chinese Taipei. And if that is not hard enough, the Filipinos will be ranged against three top title contenders in the last four days.
The Filipinos drew a bye on opening night of the nine-day tournament before playing Chinese Taipei A on Aug. 30. Gilas faces many-time champion Iran, the Wellington Saints of New Zealand and the United States from Sept. 3.
What could be the lightest foe for anyone, Chinese Taipei B, will be the Filipinos’ final assignment on Sept. 6.
In between the Taipei-A clash and the game against Hamed Haddadi and the Iranians, the Filipinos will battle a club team from South Korea on Aug. 31 before colliding with a Russian club team, Spartek Primorya, on Sept. 1.