He called himself a “market kid” who dreamed of being part of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in a social media post where he announced his retirement.

Marc Pingris has resisted many difficulties to live this dream.

And this poor kid from a northern province who played outside of the best college leagues in the country, decided to retire from basketball.

And naturally, this departure needs a little getting used to.

“I still can’t believe I’m not going to train anymore,” the Magnolia forward told SportsIQ three days after hanging up his sneakers. “Partly it’s sad knowing that you won’t be able to do the things you used to do, like getting up early. [for training] and joke with your teammates. But at the same time, I’m happy because now I have more time with my family.

The beloved Gilas Pilipinas star said he has given retirement much thought, chatting with family, close friends and fellow players. And he also made sure to check with whoever retirement would matter most: himself.

Grand Slam

“I was starting to feel [ready to retire] already too. I think for me it was also the time to give myself time to rest, ”he said.

Pingris, 39, had been living his PBA dream since 2004, when he was drafted third overall by former Air21 baseball club. He has won nine championships, two of which were named Finals Most Valuable Player, and is a multiple all-star. There are so many highlights in his career, but Pingris singled out three moments that really stand out.

“When I got drafted, when my name was called. I was very happy. I didn’t expect to be drafted, I think No. 3, ”he said in Filipino. “Also, my first championship in the PBA with coach Ryan [Gregorio]. And of course the [San Mig Coffee] Grand Slam [in 2014]. “

Ask people what they remember most about Pingris, especially those who are not fans of the PBA teams he played for, and the talks will inevitably derive from his time with the national team, especially this one. semi-final outing against South Korea in the 2013 Fiba. (International Basketball Federation) Asian Championship held at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Everyone is crying

Gilas Pilipinas had just lost Marcus Douthit in the first half and Pingris was treating a sprained foot after stepping on the foot of Korean veteran Kim Joo-sung. At halftime, as his teammates warmed up, Pingris sat down on the bench massaging his hamstrings, which had taken the weight off him as he offset his hard ankle.

“I prayed,” Pingris said after that game, “I asked him to help me not feel the pain.”

On a good leg, Pingris finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and gave Gilas Pilipinas what he needed most: the heart to defeat an old nemesis. The Philippines beat Korea 86-79 and played in the World Cup the following year, a first for the country in four decades.

“That moment when we won against Korea was the happiest because all the Filipinos were crying [out of joy]Pingris said. “All the people; people next to me, even though I didn’t know them, [they were saying] ‘Thanks thanks.'”

And, in what perhaps best defines Pingris as a person, he added, “Even though it was us who should have thanked them.” We were grateful to the fans because of the energy they took. gave us, “he said.”[The fans] were really the key to this victory, their cheers.

Pinoy Sakuragi

Pingris was the beating heart in this Gilas team. His courageous stance against the big Koreans fueled the team’s confidence when things looked bleak following Douthit’s exit.

He was also the heart of all the other teams he played for. And he gave each team everything they had every night, often fighting and beating bigger players for the rebounds. And in what he calls a happy coincidence, Pingris’ fierce determination has earned him the nickname Pinoy Sakuragi, after anime character Hanamichi Sakuragi from the popular Slam Dunk series.

“I was 10 or 12 years old [years old] and I was already watching Slam Dunk. And I really liked the character of the guy. But I didn’t expect people to call me that. But I was really glad people called me that because he was really my idol and we had the same [beginnings]. He started in track and field, I started in track and field.

While Pingris is happy to be able to spend time with his family and focus on his business activities, he said he’s not completely turning his back on basketball.

Valuable lesson

“I am open to mentoring young players,” he said. “I want to share what I know just like other players helped me when I was young. i just want to transmit [that knowledge]. It’s like a stick. It was forwarded to me once and I want to forward it to [the younger players]. “

This is knowledge that athletes should take into account whether it is basketball they are chasing or not.

“It’s not about what school you went to,” Pingris said. “It’s not about where you come from. Whether you come from the north or what, [it means] nothing. It’s all in the heart. If you really love your job or your dream, persevere [and] practice.”

Take the example of a market child in a northern province who attended a relatively small basketball school. This kid has become a multiple champion and proudly beating heart of the national team – and is walking away from his sport like a legend.

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