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Tim Cone praises Marc Pingris: The standard for coaching my future players

Marc Pingris and Tim Cone won five PBA championships together, including a Grand Slam in 2014. KC Cruz

Tributes poured in for Marc Pingris after the nine-time champion and beloved Gilas Pilipinas icon announced Tuesday his retirement to cap off a colorful 16-year PBA career.

Tim Cone, the current Ginebra coach who mentored Pingris for four seasons with the Purefoods franchise, hailed the 6-foot-4 bruiser in a short but meaningful message.

"End of an era. Certainly one of a kind. I loved, in every way, coaching Ping. Tough as nails on the court, gentle in spirit off it. (Marc Pingris) will be the standard from which I coach future players. My fave," wrote Cone on Twitter.

The two, alongside James Yap, won five titles for Purefoods, including a rare Grand Slam in 2014, just the fifth in league history.

The championships they won together were the culmination of Pingris' early struggles under Cone's triangle offense.

"He went over to [team governor] Mr. [Rene] Pardo and told him that he wants to be traded because he felt he would never learn the triangle," bared the winningest coach in PBA history last year in An Eternity of Basketball. "(But) he got to a point where he understood the triangle better than anybody."

Pingris' contemporaries also tipped their hat to the 40 Greatest Players member after his announcement.

Longtime Gilas captain Gabe Norwood posted on Instagram: "One of the true GREATS of the PBA is hanging up his kicks. Greatly appreciate you, (Marc Pingris)! Competing against you and repping the flag together are memories that'll stay with me forever. More power to you, roommate!"

San Miguel superstar June Mar Fajardo also wrote on Instagram: "Salamat 'tol sa friendship at bilang kuya! Good luck sa bagong career mo at enjoy retirement! Mami-miss kita sa loob ng court!"

Ranidel de Ocampo, who had also retired last year, stated on Instagram: "Thank you 'tol sa buong puso mo! Salamat at naging part kami ng journey mo mula sa simula. Good luck sa bagong chapter. God bless you and your family! Happy retirement!"

Another SMB star in Terrence Romeo joined in by saying: "Maraming salamat kuya Marc sa lahat ng nagawa mo sa basketball. Isa ka sa mga iniidolo ko on and off the court. Napaka-humble at napakabait mo at laging nandyan yung puso sa game! Salamat sa mga payo mo sakin kuya. Goodluck sa next chapter ng life mo. God bless you and your family always!"

Dondon Hontiveros, who briefly played with Pingris in San Miguel in the 2008-09 season and on Gilas Pilipinas in 2015, commented: "Congrats bro! Hindi lang sa napaka-successful na career mo, pati sa pagiging magandang halimbawa. Marami kang napahanga sa galing at tapang mo. PUSO!"

Even former PBA commissioner Noli Eala had something to say about Pingris' retirement. As he put it on Twitter, "I first saw Marc Pingris play with the Cebuana Lhuillier National Team as a guest team in a PBA invitational when I was commish. He impressed with his energy, strength, and passion. He kept that all through his pro career. Happy I saw it all. Thanks Marc for making the game better."