FILE – MARC Pingris escapes prominent Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic (left) for a follow-up to a failed Gabe Norwood (right) in Saturday’s daring loss to Gilas Pilipinas in Seville, Spain. FIBA.COM

MANILA, Philippines – Marc Pingris has never been the only one to give up on a challenge and he has shown it both in the PBA and in international competitions, including those that pitted him against NBA players.

The 6-foot-5 forward has always worn his heart on his sleeve and it showed on the ground in his many matches on the international stage with Gilas Pilipinas.

Whether against Hammed Hadadi, Boris Diaw, Andrés Nocioni, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Luis Scola, Pingris made sure to bring the fight.

He said he was always a person to never curl up and his attitude towards international players was even amplified when Jimmy Alapag told him and his teammates to never show admiration for them. NBA guys during competitions.

“I remember Jimmy telling us when we were teammates at Gilas that we shouldn’t be intimidated by them. We should never ask for their photos because if we do, they won’t respect us, ”Pingris said in Filipino.

“I got it from him which is why I was never excited to face them and I just focused on the game. But it was still a challenge for me because they are NBA players and I can keep them. “

Pingris’ intensity never wavered as he never hesitated to face Turkish center Ömer Asik in one of the warm-up matches ahead of the 2016 Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament.

“NEVER A DIRTY PLAYER”

At 7 feet, Asik was seven inches taller than Pingris, but that never stopped the Gilas star from showing the 13-year-old NBA veteran the passion he played with.

“I didn’t want to nudge him in the nose and he attacked me so I asked him ‘what shampoo are you using?'” Pingris joked. “I was never a bad player but I will never back down.”

One player Pingris greatly respected was two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo.

The two faced off at the 2014 Fiba World Cup at a time when Antetokounmpo was barely a year into his NBA career and weighed around 50 pounds less than his current build of 242 pounds.

Gilas faced Greece on Matchday 2 of the 2014 tiff with Pingris tasked with defending the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo.

“If we play now, I’ll be his coach,” Pingris said with a laugh. “He’s improved so much and he was thinner than me when we played in Spain. He was so thin, but he was so long. He was never able to push me when I posted him, which is why I was able to score against him.

“Right now? He’s a monster. He really loves basketball, so he’s gotten into the right shape and built his body.

For his troubles, Pingris scored seven points and six rebounds against Antetokounmpo’s three points and six rebounds, but the Greeks won that game 82-70.

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