MAGNOLIA’S wait for Marc Pingris may soon be over.
The veteran forward yesterday said he is joining the Hotshots’ small group practices sometime within this week and from there decide whether he would play in the coming PBA season set to start next month.
“Gusto kong makipag-ensayo sa kanila next week,” Pingris told Malaya-Business Insight over the weekend.
“Papa-swab muna ako, then pag na-clear titingnan ko kung kaya pang maglaro.”
That move, related the 39-year-old, has received the go-signal from Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“Nag-usap na kami ni coach. Sabi ko, subukan kong mag-court. Kasi hindi ko pa rin na-ta-try na makipagsabayan sa kanila (other Hotshots),” Pingris said.
Victolero said Pingris is always welcome but, at the same time, said Magnolia is ready to plunge into action with the players the team has.
“Kumpleto pa rin naman kami,” said Victolero. “’Yung core ko, 11 to 12 players, okay na. With Ping (Pingris) 13 na kami, so dalawa na lang kulang. If ever, dagdag na lang kami ng role players.”
Victolero tried to take another big man in the rookie draft two Sundays ago, in case Pingris decides to retire. But with his main options gone early Victolero went to Plan B and picked former Adamson sniper Jerrick Ahanmisi at No. 10 overall.
“Nu’ng makuha mga una naming gusto, looking forward na kami sa best talent, na sa tingin namin siya ‘yung best shooter sa lahat ng nag-pa-draft ngayon,” Victolero said of the younger brother of Alaska’s Maverick Ahanmisi.
“Bukod sa youth siya ‘yung nakita namin na ang taas ng percentage niya sa 3-points, almost 40 percent. Plus, the fact na p’wede namin siyang gawing 2-3 na hinahanap din namin.”
The Magnolia frontcourt, where Pingris belongs, already has an ample cast for Victolero.
“Nandiyan si Ian (Sangalang), Rafi (Reavis), Kyle (Pascual) at meron din kaming Calvin (Abueva) who can play multiple positions. Then Jackson (Corpuz) at Aris Dionisio,” the coach pointed out.
If ever, Victolero said he is willing to look at free agents or the Hotshots’ late draft choices in Andoy Estrella and Ronnie de Leon to fill up the void in case Pingris does retire.
Pingris has sure mulled things carefully before making his decision.
In a previous interview, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2004 draft admitted he has been torn between coming back or stepping away from the game he has played since he was 16 years old.
“Kung tutuusin kasi wala na kong kailangan pang patunayan. Pero gusto ko tapusin ‘yung career ko, mag-exit ng maganda, ma-retire ‘yung jersey,” he said.
The latter goal is what has driven Pingris to complete his rehab from a variety of injuries that had sidelined him last season.
“Conditioning at workout . Kahapon nga (Saturday) katatapos ko lang mag-bike para endurance naman,” offered Pingris.
“Nag-co-court rin akong mag-isa para kahit papaano hindi mawala sa kundisyon. Nag-ja-jump at saka tumatakbo na rin ako, may sprints na rin konti.”