By JONAS TERRADO
Coach Tim Cone and former Gilas Pilipinas teammates June Mar Fajardo and beloved Magnolia utility man Jun Rillo were among the many who congratulated Marc Pingris on a 16-year career that came to an end Tuesday, May 25.
Cone described Pingris, a major part of San Mig Super Coffee’s Grand Slam team in 2014, as a player who set the bar when it comes to how he’ll handle players in the future.
“End of an era. Certainly one of a kind,” Cone tweeted. “I loved, in every way, coaching Ping. Tough as nails on the court, gentle in spirit off it. (Pingris) will be the standard from which I coach future players. My fav.”
Fajardo also took to social media to remember the first time he and Pingris played DOTA at Metrowalk. The two are among the PBA players who are ardent gamers.
The six-time PBA Most Valuable Player also recalled the competitive PBA battles they had, including a defeat in Fajardo’s first Finals appearance which came against Pingris and San Mig in the 2013 Governors’ Cup.
“Di ko makalimutan unang kita natin sa Metrowalk (at nasa) ABL palang ako,” said Fajardo, who played for San Miguel Beer in the ASEAN Basketball League in 2012.
“Tol, maraming salamat talaga sa lahat ng tinuro mo sakin di lang sa basketball pati na din sa buhay. Salamat lalo sa friendship mo at sa mga bondings at memories natin sa Gilas. Di ko din makalimutan (first) finals ko sa PBA magkalaban tayo at nagchampion kayo, (first) heartbreak ko yon sa Finals pero masaya ako kasi marami ako natutunan sa match up natin at masaya ako nag-finals MVP ka non!
“After nun mas pinaghahandaan kita at naeexcite ako pag magkalaban tayo kasi gustong-gusto kita talunin. Mamimiss kita sa loob ng court tol for sure! Maraming salamat talaga sa pagiging isang magandang role model para sa amin at mga susunod pa na generations! Enjoy your retirement and congrats again sa successful PBA career!” Fajardo concluded.
But perhaps the best tribute came from Rillo, who became known for a moment in the Grand Slam-clinching Game 5 of the 2014 Governors’ Cup Finals against Rain or Shine when he came out of nowhere to measure the length of Pingris’ foot from the line in protest over stepping call by the officials.
Rillo’s Facebook post was short and sweet, with reference from that memorable moment.
“Salamat Marc Pingris sa hindi masusukat na laki ng iyong puso on and off the court. Best wishes on your next adventure!” Rillo said.
Board to tackle next move
The PBA Board of Governors will meet Thursday (May 27) to discuss what course of action it will take following the resumption of full practices and scrimmages outside of Metro Manila last week.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and governors from all 12 clubs are set to convene at 1 p.m. through face-to-face or virtual, with the target opening of the 46th season among the topics to be discussed.
Marcial had earlier said that the league plans to start on June 25, five days after the conclusion of the country’s hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga.
But the date will still depend on the current COVID-19 situation in the country, particularly the community quarantine classifications that will be imposed after May 31.