PBA: With Abueva around, Pingris confident of Magnolia's future

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2021 05:58 PM

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MANILA, Philippines -- Marc Pingris has no doubt that the Magnolia Hotshots will be able to keep in step with the PBA's powerhouses, even as he steps away from the franchise that he has played for nearly his entire career.

Pingris on Tuesday made the emotional announcement that he is retiring, after a 16-year career in the PBA wherein he won nine championships, including a Grand Slam. 

The last of those titles came in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, where Pingris could only watch from the sidelines as he was recovering from a knee injury. He only briefly played in 2019, and sat out the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup that took place in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga.

According to Pingris, Magnolia coach Chito Victolero was gracious and understanding when informed of his decision to retire.

"Naiintindihan niya kung ano ang sitwasyon ko dahil naging player din siya. So, 'yun, talagang kinongrats niya ako, talagang pinagsabihan niya ako, tinulungan niya ako sa desisyon ko," he said. 

"Talagang nagpapasalamat ako na nandiyan siya bilang hindi lang isang coach ko kung 'di bilang isang kaibigan ko, or isang kuya ko, na umaalalay sa akin," he added.

Pingris now looks forward to seeing the development of the Hotshots. After a quarterfinal appearance in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, the team made some radical changes in the offseason, adding mercurial forward Calvin Abueva in a trade that sent Chris Banchero to Phoenix Super LPG.

They selected sharpshooter Jerrick Ahanmisi in the recent Rookie Draft, and also added another rookie, Loren Brill, through free agency.

Other PBA teams have also beefed up in the offseason, with San Miguel adding former Rookie of the Year CJ Perez and Barangay Ginebra acquiring Christian Standhardinger. 

But Pingris has no doubt that the Hotshots can remain as title contenders, especially with Abueva leading the way.

PBA: With Abueva around, Pingris confident of Magnolia's future 1
Marc Pingris in action for Magnolia in the 2019 PBA Governors Cup. File photo. PBA Media Bureau.

"Parang hindi naman ako nawala, dahil and'yan si Calvin eh," he said. "Same lang kasi kami ng laro ni Calvin eh. Same heart din. Alam ko naman, naging teammate ko siya, binibigay niya lagi ang 100% niya."

Abueva was impressive in his return to the PBA in the bubble, after over a year away due to suspension. "The Beast" averaged 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game for the Fuel Masters, helping the team reach the semis. 

But trading for Abueva still poses risks, given the veteran forward's reputation for notoriety. Pingris said he has remained in contact with Abueva and reminded him of what he needs to do.

"Pinayuhan ko na rin siya, pinagsabihan ko na rin siya, na ingatan niya 'yung init lang ng ulo," said Pingris. "Pati 'wag niyang tanggalin 'yung ano niya, 'yung 100% niya para maglaro. Kumbaga, kung ano 'yung kulit niya, kung ano 'yung agresibo niya, same pa rin."

Pingris is also confident in Victolero's capacity to coach the team and lead them back to the top.

"Alam kong lumalakas 'yung ibang team, pero alam kong lumakas din 'yung team dahil andiyan din si Calvin. So diskarte ni coach, naniniwala ako sa sistema niya," he said.

"I believe na makundisyon lang sila, makaka-ano rin sila sa finals. 'Yun din 'yung ang gustong-gusto ulit kunin ni coach ano eh. So kaya nila 'yan," he added.

PBA: With Abueva around, Pingris confident of Magnolia's future 2
The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok gets some instructions from coach Chito Victolero prior to the practice on Thursday at the Lyceum International Academy in Batangas. PBA Media Bureau.

While he may no longer play for the team, Pingris will remain invested in the squad and intends to keep guiding the Magnolia players, particularly the younger ones who look up to him.

"Gagabayan ko pa rin sila kahit hindi na nila ako teammate. Ite-text-text ko pa rin 'yung mga ibang player. So nasa kanila 'yun kung tatanggapin nila 'yung text ko. Papayuhan ko pa rin sila talaga. Bilang isang kuya, ganoon talaga ang ano. Kahit hindi ako naglalaro, te-text ko pa rin sila," he said. 

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