MANILA, Philippines – The Magnolia Hotshots are dedicating the rest of their campaign in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup to veteran teammate Marc Pingris, who suffered an untimely knee injury that has ruled him out for at least six months.
Pingris was confirmed to have torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee on Monday. His left knee buckled with around four minutes to go in Game 1 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against NLEX last Saturday, and the big man had to be stretchered off the court.
In their first game without their leader, the Hotshots wore tape with the number 15 – Pingris’ jersey number – written on it. Then, they proceeded to blow past the Road Warriors, 99-84, to tie their best-of-7 series at 1-1.
For the Hotshots, it was a victory inspired by Pingris, who has been the emotional bedrock of the franchise for a long time.
“Lagi nagme-message sa amin si Kuya Ping na kaya namin ‘to,” said young guard Jiovani Jalalon, who had 10 of their 20 assists, while limiting NLEX rookie Kiefer Ravena to only nine points. “Kumbaga, malaking tulong ‘yung mga sinasabi ni Kuya Ping sa amin.”
“Sinabi niya lang na ipanalo lang namin ‘tong series na ‘to para sa kanya,” added Paul Lee, who scored 27 points to lead the way for Magnolia.
According to Lee, Pingris exhorted the Hotshots to keep their spirits up despite getting bitten by the injury bug. Aside from Pingris, Magnolia is also missing Justin Melton who has a strained hamstring. Coach Chito Victolero also revealed that Mark Barroca is not at 100% due to an ankle issue.
“Sinasabi lang ni Kuya Ping na ‘yung mga other guys talaga, step up talaga,” said Lee. “‘Yun ‘yung kailangan namin, ‘yung bench talaga.”
Pingris was averaging 6.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game before he was injured.
With him out of the line-up, Victolero gave more minutes to Ian Sangalang, Aldrech Ramos, and even Rodney Brondial.
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