Marc Pingris, the “Pinoy Sakuragi,” is best known for his defense and hustle for the San Mig Coffee Mixers. His impressive performances have earned him star status in the PBA and a spot in the national basketball team training pool - a very far cry from where the 6’4” center forward started.
In an interview with “Sports Pilipinas” host Chino Trinidad, Ping shares his story and shows us that resilience and hard work really do pay off in the end.
When Marc first came to Manila from Pozorrubio, Pangasinan in 1998, all he had with him were two pairs of shorts, a pair of pants, and three shirts. He recalled one particular day wherein after coming home from practice, tired and hungry, he had nothing to eat except for a small plastic bag of spoiled rice. Crying while eating it, Marc promised himself, “Balang araw, kakain din ako ng masarap.”
Entering the PBA
After years of hard work and dedication to the game of basketball, Marc Pingris was snagged by the Air21 Express with the third overall pick in the 2004 PBA draft. He was later dubbed the “Pinoy Sakuragi,” based on a character from the Japanese comic and manga series “Slam Dunk” who was known for his defensive prowess - a fitting title considering he has been named to the the All Defensive Team five times in his career so far. His hustle, persistence, and defense became his weapons on the floor and when asked about it, he says, “Tiyagaan lang ‘yan eh. Kailangan ibigay mo ‘yung best mo. Blessed din siguro ako na binigyan ako ni God ng ganoong (talent) so tinuloy-tuloy ko na rin.”
Meeting his long lost father
Marc grew up without his father, and after seeing his mother struggle as a single parent, never had the desire to meet him. However, his wife, actress Danica Sotto, eventually changed his mind. Danica sent letters to every Pingris she could find until she finally contacted Marc’s uncle. Marc and his mother received a letter from Jean Marc Pingris Sr. soon after.
Marc was hesitant but he said, “Sige, pagbibigyan kita.” and went to meet his dad. When he first saw his father, Marc says he started to cry and saw his father tearing up as well. “First time kong narinig sa buong buhay ko, ang sarap ng feeling, ‘My son, my son’ tapos niyakap ako agad.”
The sacrifice he had to make to play for the national team
This August, Marc and his family were supposed to go to France for a family reunion, however, after being called on to play for the national team, he had to cancel. When asked why he chose to set aside this important event in his family’s life to play for the country, he said, “Minsan lang kasi sa buhay ‘to eh. Alam kong malulungkot (ang daddy ko) dahil time niya ‘yun eh. So kinausap ko siya ‘Dad, sorry talaga pero para sa bayan (ito).’ Balang araw, mapapanood ng anak ko ito. Ang sarap. Kumbaga maraming Pilipinong manonood sa’yo, kung ano ‘yung maitutulong mo sa bansang ito. ‘Yun yung feeling na hindi mo na maibabalik eh.”
Taking care of his God-given talents
Aside from training with the other possible members of the Gilas team, Marc also has his personal training. He says all of this is his way of giving thanks and praise to the Lord who gave him his talents. “Para sa akin, (okay lang) ‘yung extra work (kasi) minsan lang dumating ‘yung pagkakataon na ganitong malakas ka. Kasi balang araw, tatanda ka, mawawala ka sa basketball. So habang nandito ka, alagaan mo ‘yung sarili mo. ‘Yun ‘yung importante. Kung ano ‘yung binigay sa’yo ni Lord na passion mo, kailangan gamitin mo ‘yan, alagaan mo. Kung hindi mo pinag-hirapan ‘yan, hindi mo minahal, mawawala sa’yo.”
- Grace Gaddi, GMA News