Marc Pingris said his brief fourth quarter skirmish with Turkey’s veteran big man Omer Asik was his way of showing the visitors that Gilas Pilipinas won’t back down at any type of challenge as it prepares for next week’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament.
Pingris explained that the 7-foot-1 Asik elbowed his nose while they were jockeying for rebounding position.
The energetic Gilas forward then retaliated by hitting him with an elbow in the body, but fortunately, the referees quickly intervened to separate the two.
“Wala yun, tinatanong niya (Asik) lang kung ano daw ang shampoo ko, sabi ko wala, Ajax (a brand of laundry soap),” Pingris said jokingly when asked about the incident.
But turning serious, the veteran Star power forward said he is not the type of player, who’ll let anybody step on the Gilas team, which he said could be shortest team in the qualifying tournament.
“Nagkabigayan lang kanina,” he said. “Pero di naman tayo papasindak sa kanila dahil kailangan lumaban din naman tayo. Kasi hindi naman puwedeng ikaw na nga ang sumiko tapos siya pa ang galit.”
Pingris added it didn’t matter if Asik was an NBA veteran, who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Kailangan ipakita mo rin na matapang ka sa loob. Wala akong pakialam dun kung sino kaharap ko. Eh kasalanan niya, di gagantihan ko,” he said.
Being one of the shortest teams in the FIBA tournament that provides just one slot for the Olympics, the 34-year-old Pingris stressed the importance of maintaining a high level of intensity from the get go.
The former PSBA Blue Jaguar forward admitted that Gilas is the decided underdog against France, which they will face on opening day next Tuesday.
“Kailangan lang talaga every quarter ready kami,” he said. Basta importante, kung sino ipapasok sa team, mag-trabaho lang.” – By Richard Dy
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