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With the spotlight in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers belonging largely to Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto, another Gilas Pilipinas stalwart has gotten the attention of former national team player Marc Pingris.
NLEX Road Warrior Calvin Oftana drew praise from “Pinoy Sakuragi”, as the former Star Hotshots forward spoke highly of the former NCAA MVP.
“Gustong-gusto ko siya. Sinabi ko kay Daddy Vic (Sotto) kanina, sabi ko, Dad, yung time na binigay sa kanya, but nakita mo yung defense niya, gustong-gusto niya maglaro,” Pingris, who watched Gilas beat Saudi Arabia live inside the Mall of Asia Arena, said.
Oftana, a 6-foot-5 wing man out of San Beda, played just above 10 minutes but was efficient in the time he was on the floor. The third overall pick of the 2020 PBA Draft scored six points and was a plus-14.
It was a stark improvement from Oftana’s quiet scoreless performance against Lebanon last Friday.
More than the stat line, it was Oftana’s intangibles that drew the respect of Pingris, being a player himself known for his heart and hustle.
“Sabi ko, parang ito yung magiging role player tapos umiiskor. What if binigyan pa talaga siya ng playing time? Gusto ko siya talaga maglaro. Grabe yung defense niya,” one of the 40 greatest PBA players said, before letting Oftana know publicly he wants to personally meet him soon.
“Sana mag-meet tayo soon,” the 40-year-old Pingris added.
As a piece of advice not only for Oftana but also the younger members of the squad, Pingris hopes they carry the same work ethic and commitment as he and his batchmates did, back when Gilas returned to the FIBA World Cup in 2014 and had a valiant showing.
“Sa young team, for me naman, makinig lang naman sila, yun na ang pinaka-importante. Matututo rin yang mga yan. Pwede silang magtanong kasi sa mga beterano nila eh,” he shared.
“Kailangan maglaro ka dyan ng may puso. Give your best, 100 percent.”
First photo from FIBA.basketball; second photo from Roy Secretario/Sports Bytes PH
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