San Mig Coffee livewire forward Marc Pingris is the newest member of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team, and his coach Tim Cone couldn’t be more excited.
“I think he’ll be a key contributor. I’m really happy for Ping,” Cone told InterAKTV. “I’m sure, he, too, is very proud about his selection.”
Cone said Pingris, nicknamed ‘Sakuragi’ after the anime character for his firebrand style of play, brings a different dimension to SMART-Gilas.
“He does so many things that were never done by other members of the squad,” said Cone.
Pingris’ entry into SMART-Gilas could mean missing games for San Mig Coffee in the Governors’ Cup, the schedule of which is still being set by the PBA. With this in mind, Cone said that the team could choose to bring back Marqus Blakely, who led the franchise to a finals appearance in the season-ending tournament last season. During his stint, fans compared Blakely’s style of play to that of Pingris, earning him the nickname ‘Black Sakuragi’.
“We’re looking to bring him in for the third conference,” said Cone.
» ‘WALA MUNANG BIRUAN’ | Gilas players more serious ahead of FIBA Asia quarterfinal, says Marc Pingris
» Gilas proving doubters wrong in FIBA Asia, say ex-national team coaches Cone, Lipa
» Tim Cone dismisses Alex Mallari trade to Ginebra: ‘That’s all rumors’