After 13 long years of playing in the pro ranks, Star Hotshots leader Marc Pingris rewrote the history books on Friday night, as he became the 86th player in the PBA to enter the elite club of those who have tallied 5,000 career points.
And with this recent feat of his, the 35-year-old paid tribute to head coach Chito Victolero.
“Sobrang blessed lang, na talagang nag-thank you ako kay Lord kanina tsaka kay Coach (Chito) dahil sa tiwala at sa opportunity na binigay niya sa’kin kanina,” said a grateful Pingris after Star’s 128-81 dismantling of the Kia Picanto at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Pinaupo na ‘ko eh, tapos nung nalaman nila na ‘o, five points na lang, gusto mo pa maglaro?’ ‘It’s up to you coach kung gusto mo’ kako. ‘Okay, laro ka’.”
The eight-time champion was recalling the moment that happened in the game’s final frame. Pingris had already been pulled out of the match with 8:18 remaining, and the first-year head coach had subbed in new face Bambam Gamalinda for him.
But when they were given notice of Pingris being just a few points away from the milestone, Victolero then subbed back his star forward in. The 13-time All-Star returned to the court with 6:44 left on the clock.
And from there, the rest is history. Pingris entered the 5,000-club through a thunderous one-handed breakaway jam with 7.7 ticks left to play, much to his and his teammates’ delight.
“Alam mo yung tiwala na binigay niya rin sa’kin? Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa kanya,” said the Pozzorubio, Pangasinan native, continuing to shower Victolero with so much gratitude for aiding him add yet another feather to his cap.
Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena will certainly be one of those moments Pingris will never forget. But that does not mean he has forgotten that there’s still a lot of work to do, for he has yet to reach his full health.
Pingris, after all, is still trying to get back his groove after a six-month hiatus due to a hip injury.
“Konting takbo pa. Pagkatapos ng practice tumatakbo ako sa gabi, kinukuha ko yung hangin ko. Walang-wala pa talaga yung legs ko e, dahil ang ginagawa talaga strengthening, workout. Pagkatapos ng workout, plyo[metrics].
“Eto yung sinasabi nila, na yan yung mahirap sa part na yan, yung bumabalik ka. Magta-tight[en] mga muscle mo, magta-tight[en] katawan mo. Kailangan ma-overcome ko raw yun,” Pingris said.