WINNING a PBA grand slam is definitely up there on Marc Pingris' best moments in his basketball career.
But he admitted Gilas Pilipinas' dramatic win over South Korea during the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup Championships in Manila tops them all.
Although both experiences proved to be challenging, the recently retired Magnolia forward said the feat pulled off by the national team is a bit extra special considering the Filipinos had to get their acts together in so short a time despite the players coming from different ballclubs.
"Siguro mas mahirap lang talaga yung sa Gilas. Months lang kami nagsama. Kumbaga yung bonding namin sobrang solid talaga," recalled the 39-year-old Pingris in the weekly sports show The Chasedown.
Pingris credited former national team coach Chot Reyes for whipping the group into a solid, cohesive unit that beat South Korea, 86-79, during the semifinals of the tournament to earn a berth in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
The World Cup stint was the first for the country in the last 36 years or since the Philippines hosted the so-called Olympics of basketball in 1978.
The 6-foot-4 Pingris, playing on an injured leg, finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds against the Sokors, and scored the insurance basket in the final 20 seconds off a putback following a Jayson Castro missed layup.
But the Purefoods franchise completing a season sweep in 2014 also had a soft spot in Pingris' heart.
"Mahirap din talaga yung makakuha ka ng grand slam sa PBA," Pingris pointed out.
"Yung sa grand slam, magti-teammates naman kasi kamin dun, alam namin yung galawan ng bawat isa," added the player dubbed as 'Pinoy Sakuragi,' who formed one-third of former coach Tim Cone's so-called Big Three together with Peter June Simon and two-time MVP James Yap.
In the end, it's the Gilas experience that really weighed a lot for Pingris.
"Same lang naman. Parehong basketball naman yan. Mahal ko yung basketball at parehong pinag-hirapan naman," he said
"Para sa akin parehas lang naman. Lamang lang ng kaunti yung Gilas siguro." (RG)