MANILA, Philippines — Marc Pingris’ departure from the league will be felt not on how many rebounds he grabs or how many points he scores but on the impact he made on his teammates’ psyche.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said the biggest thing that will be missing from the team 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 was the Hotshots’ leadership pillars and it would take some time before that voice would be replaced within the team.
“Actually, that was a big blow for us in terms of leadership because Rafi and Ping are the pioneers of the franchise,” said Victolero in Filipino. “They were the ones who won the Grand Slam and they know how to win.”
“They know how hard it is to win a championship and they know the sacrifices needed to be made. That’s the biggest thing we lost, Ping’s leadership.”
Pingris and Reavis helped lead the Hotshots to seven of its 14 championships including four straight titles from 2013 to 2014 highlighted by a Grand Slam.
Victolero knows that Pingris’ play took a dive in 2019 because of his injury, he even skipped the 2020 season due to it, but what never wavered was the emotional boost that the Philippine international always provided the team.
The 2018 Governors’ Cup champion has then turned to veterans Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, and new acquisition 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,” said Victolero. “Even if we don’t have that much talent compared to other teams, as long as we work together we have a good chance of winning.”
“We’ve had our battles in the past conferences and although we don’t have that talent, like I said, as long as we have teamwork and chemistry we can win.”
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