When the opportunity to hire Marc Pingris as an assistant coach arose in September of last year, Blackwater’s new head coach Jeff Cariaso stated that the plan was to hire the former PBA star as a big man’s coach.
In fact, the 51-year-old Cariaso compared Danny Ildefonso, the current assistant mentor for Converge, to Pingris’ potential job.
“To be honest, the idea was bring Ping in as a coach because there’s an open slot for an assistant coach, specifically for big man of our team because our small man’s coach is Mike Cortez, sort of like a Danny I, who has so much experience and understands how to be successful in the PBA, and how you need to prepare,” Cariaso told the Manila Times.
During his heyday with the San Miguel Beer franchise, Ildefonso established himself as an eight-time PBA champion.
The 6-foot-5 Ildefonso then began a career as a coach, first as an assistant at Ateneo and then National University in the UAAP before joining Alaska in 2017 as Cariaso’s co-deputy coach under Alex Compton.
Cariaso and Ildefonso collaborated at Alaska up until 2022, when the franchise said goodbye to the PBA and was ultimately purchased by Converge.
Cariaso later served as Converge’s interim coach for the Philippine Cup in 2022 before being quickly succeeded by Aldin Ayo.
Cariaso emphasized, referring to the Bossing’s proposal for Pingris to act as the big man’s coach, “That’s the idea.”
Pingris’ conversation with Cariaso and Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy in September, however, developed and resulted in the suggestion of allowing the former member of the All-Defensive PBA team to play as well.
The 6-foot-5 Pingris was already given an initial one-conference package by Sy more than a week ago when the notion of allowing him play came up. “That idea of letting Ping play came up later, but it’s entirely up to Ping, let’s see,” the new Blackwater coach continued.
Pingris, who turned 42 last week, is presently bound to the MPBL team Imus SV.
If ever, the native of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan, accepts the additional job that would open the door for his PBA comeback, Cariaso believes the Pingris still has some gas left in his tank.
“I think yes, of course (he could still play), he’s of age, over 40, but still, In those amount of minutes, for sure, he might surprise us and be able to play longer,” Cariaso said.
After 15 years of PBA competition and nine league championships, including the 2014 Grand Slam with San Mig Coffee (now Magnolia), Pingris announced his retirement in May 2021.
As he shares his vast knowledge and experience with the players, Cariaso believes Pingris, who is well-known for his big, fighting heart, will eventually join Blackwater.
For starters, despite the fact that Yousef Taha, James Sent, and Troy Rosario are seasoned big men for Blackwater, Cariaso would like to see Christian David, the second overall rookie pick in the 2023 PBA draft, together with the talented Tyrus Hill and incoming sophomore big man Ato Ular, enhance their skills.
The former Learn big man had a fantastic rookie season, averaging 11.18 points and 9.06 rebounds in 34 games, and was selected by Blackwater with the 13rd overall pick in the 2022 PBA draft.