Marc Pingris is back with the country’s national basketball team.
The 40-year old PBA legend will assume the role of Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach for the upcoming window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifies which will be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum from February 24 to 28.
Pingris, who admitted that newly designated Gilas coach Chot Reyes personally offered him a spot in the coaching staff, underwent a 2-day quarantine period and was swab tested prior to joining the rest of the Gilas members in training at the Moro Lorenzo gym.
“Gusto niya (Reyes) nga raw akong kunin. So ako, siyempre naman. Baliw na yung tatanggi diyan,” said the 9-time PBA champ.
“Mag-a-asssist lang sa mga bigs and at the same time, will share my experience as a Gilas player before,” he added.
Reyes was the overwhelming choice of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to take over spot vacated by Tab Baldwin who relinquished the post in order to focus on Ateneo de Manila’s campaign in the upcoming UAAP wars.
The strong bond between Pingris and Reyes started during the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship wherein the country blasted arch-rival South Korea in the semifinals and went to finish in 2nd place behind Iran. The feat led to the country’s return to the world stage which eventually ended a 40-year winless drought after a victory over Senegal in the group phase.
“Ang hirap ng sitwasyon ni coach Chot ngayon. Sinalo niya yan ng hindi pa buo yung team na yan,” explained Pingris.
“Wala kang isang buwan para i-train yan. Kami dati two months kaming umaalis para makilala namin ang isa’t isa, kaya nagkaka-amuyan kami (sa court),” he added. “This one, hindi naman katulad ng PBA All-Star na tatawagin mo lang, tapos maglalaro lang.”
Aside from Pingris, Reyes’ other deputies in the training camp are Jong Uichico, Nenad Vucinic and Josh Reyes.