MANILA, Philippines – Marc Pingris’s departure from the league will be felt not in the number of rebounds he catches or the number of points he scores, but in the impact he had on the psyche of his teammates.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said the biggest thing the team will be missing is Pingris’ leadership after the 6-foot-5 power forward announced his retirement last month.
Victolero said that Pingris, along with 43-year-old Rafi Reavis, were the leadership pillars of the Hotshots and that it would be some time before that voice was replaced within the team.
“Actually, that was a huge blow to us in terms of leadership because Rafi and Ping are the pioneers of the franchise,” Victolero said in Filipino. “They were the ones who won the Grand Slam and they know how to win.”
“They know how difficult it is to win a championship and they know the sacrifices that have to be made. That’s the biggest thing we lost, Ping’s leadership. “
Pingris and Reavis helped lead the Hotshots to seven of their 14 championships, including four straight titles from 2013 to 2014 highlighted by a Grand Slam.
Victolero knows that Pingris’ game sank in 2019 because of his injury, he even skipped the 2020 season for it, but what never wavered was the emotional push that the Philippine international always gave the team.
The 2018 Governors’ Cup champion enlisted veterans Mark Barroca, Paul Lee and newcomer Calvin Abueva to be the team’s new vocal leaders.
Abueva, who has the same tenacity as Pingris, joined the franchise in February in a trade with Phoenix in exchange for point guard Chris Banchero.
“Of course, I talk to Mark, Paul, Calvin that they have to step up in terms of leadership,” Victolero said. “Even if we are not as talented compared to other teams, as long as we work together we have a good chance of winning.”
“We have had our battles in past conferences and even though we don’t have that talent, as I said, as long as we have teamwork and chemistry we can win.”
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