Marc Pingris is expected to take the leadership role when he makes his basketball comeback with Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards in the Chooks-To-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Invitational which is set to fire off on Dec. 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Pingris, who wrapped up his 16-year illustrious career that saw him won nine PBA championships, two Finals MVP plum and three Defensive Player of the Year award, is coming out of a brief six-month retirement along with former Magnolia teammate PJ Simon.
Rice Vanguards team manager Ivan Cuevas believes that the veteran presence of Pingris is a major boost to Nueva Ecija’s cause, especially with the experience he could bring to the table as a many-time PBA champion and Gilas Pilipinas stalwart.
“Bringing him into the team, it gives us a lot of benefits, a lot of advantages, not only in game but also out of the game. We have a very talented young group and Marc will be a good addition in guiding the team,” said Cuevas who represented the Nueva Ecija team during the draw ceremony last Friday.
Nueva Ecija has announced its roster which featured a good mix of veteran and young talents led by the two former PBA stars. Joining them on board are former PBA cagers Renz Palma, Diego Dario and Ael Banal.
Completing the cast for the Rice Vanguards are Bobby Balucanag, Chris Bitoon, Byron Villarias, Michael Mabulac, Ken Belgica, JP Sarao, and guest players Will Gozum and Justine Gutang.
“You know he’s a legend on the court in the field of basketball and also on screen, so he’ll give us confidence that Nueva Ecija needs in this tournament especially since it’s a newly formed team,” Cuevas said.
Nueva Ecija will be coached by Carlo Tan and was grouped in Pool C together with MPBL Lakan Cup runners-up San Juan Knights Go for Gold AICC, Sarangani Marlins, Val City MJAS Zenith, and Muntinlupa Cagers.