Pingris on facing NBA players during Gilas stint: I never backed down
MANILA, Philippines—Marc Pingris was never the one to back down from any challenge and he’s shown it both in the PBA and in international competitions including those that pitted him against NBA players.
The 6-foot-5 power forward always wore his heart on his sleeve and it showed on the floor in his many games on the international stage with Gilas Pilipinas.
Be it against Hammed Hadadi, Boris Diaw, Andrés Nocioni, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Luis Scola, Pingris made sure to bring the fight.
He said that he was always a person to never cower and his attitude towards international players was even amplified when Jimmy Alapag told him and his teammates to never show admiration towards the NBA guys during competitions.
“I remember Jimmy telling us, when we were teammates at Gilas, that we shouldn’t be intimidated by them. We should never ask for their pictures because if we do that they won’t respect us,” said Pingris in Filipino.
“I got that from him so that’s why I was never excited to face them and I just focused on the game. But it was still a challenge for me because those are NBA players and I can guard them.”
Pingris’ intensity never wavered that he never hesitated to get in the face of Turkey center Ömer Asik during one of the tune-up games heading into the 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
‘NEVER A DIRTY PLAYER’
At 7-feet, Asik was seven inches taller than Pingris but that never stopped the Gilas star to show the 13-year NBA veteran the passion he’s played with.
“I didn’t mean to elbow him in the nose and he went at me so I asked him ‘what shampoo do you use?’” joked Pingris. “I was never a dirty player but I will never back down.”
One player that Pingris respected the hell out of was two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo.
The two matched up against each other during the 2014 Fiba World Cup in a time when Antetokounmpo was barely a year into his NBA career and was around 50 pounds lighter than his current build of 242 lbs.
Gilas played Greece on the second day of the 2014 tiff with Pingris assigned to defend the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo.
“If we played now, I’ll be his coach,” said Pingris laughing. “He’s improved so much and he was thinner than me when we played in Spain. He was so thin but he was so long. He was never able to push me when I posted him up that’s why I was able to score against him.”
“Right now? He’s a monster. He really loves basketball so he got into the right shape and built up his body.”
For his troubles, Pingris tallied seven points and six rebounds against Antetokounmpo’s three points and six boards but the Greeks took that game 82-70.
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