Six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo paid tribute to Marc Pingris as his pal and former Gilas Pilipinas teammate retired from the sport following a glorious career.
Fajardo – then still playing in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) – recalled how his friendship with Pingris started through popular video game Dota as they both played in Metrowalk in Pasig.
“We were already playing Dota since I was in the ABL, but you did not talk to me at first. You only talked to me because you needed somebody to carry you in the game since you always lost,” Fajardo quipped in Filipino.
Teaming up for Dota games forged a unique bond between the two big men as they got closer as teammates for the national squad.
Pingris and Fajardo helped Gilas clinch a silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship – an accomplishment that propelled the country to the FIBA World Cup for the first time in 36 years.
“Thank you for everything you taught me, not just in basketball but also in life. Thank you for your friendship and our bonding and memories when we were playing for Gilas,” Fajardo said.
Fajardo added the 39-year-old forward pushed him to be better at his craft, particularly since it was against Pingris when he suffered his “first heartbreak” in the PBA.
Then still a rookie, Fajardo and Petron reached the finals of the 2013 Governors’ Cup only to witness Pingris and San Mig Coffee win in seven games and claim the first of their four consecutive PBA titles.
“[T]hat was my first heartbreak in the finals but I was still happy because I learned a lot from our matchup and you won as Finals MVP,” Fajardo said.
“After that, I prepared better for you and I always got excited playing against you because I wanted to beat you.”
Fajardo said Pingris has set a good example for the current and future generation of Filipino basketball players.
“I will miss playing with and against you on the court for sure. Thank you for being an exemplary role model to us and the future generations,” Fajardo said. – Rappler.com