With 28 days to go before the Olympic qualifier that will be held in the Philippines, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin called on Filipino hoops fans to pray for the national team.
“Please, on behalf of the basketball team, keep us in your prayers, thoughts, and hearts,” said Baldwin during the team’s send off news conference on Tuesday at the Novotel Hotel in Quezon City. “I’m very thankful for this wonderful opportunity and I would like to thank also PBA [Philippine Basketball Association] Commissioner Chito Narvasa.”
Also present during the event were SBP Vice President Al Panlilio, Vice Chairman Ricky Vargas, President Manny V. Pangilinan as well as players Andray Blatche, Jean Marc Pingris, Ryan Reyes, Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.
“Filipino hoops fans are Gilas’ sixth man during the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament,” Panlilio told the media. “It is a great chance to surpass our objectives. Hopefully, we qualify for the Olympics. In behalf of MVP, I would like to thank the Philippine Basketball Association for the support.”
Panlilio also said that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte also expressed an all-out support of Gilas Pilipinas in its campaign in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament happening July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“Everybody is excited to see our very own Gilas team play here and I’m expecting a lot of people coming to the MOA Arena,” said Vargas. “Filipinos are big fan of basketball.”
“I just got back from Hong Kong and the line up looks good but I will leave the [selection of the]Final 14 to coach Tab [Baldwin],” said Pangilinan. “I’m asking also for the fans to pray for our Gilas Pilipinas team and support them to win the qualifier and reach the Olympics.”
Gilas Pilipinas won the first close door tune-up game against Iran, 71-64, on Tuesday at the Hoops Dome in Mandaluyong City.
“We still need to do well in the execution and we need to do more in the rebounding side,” Baldwin said of the game.
The score was reset to zero per quarter in the said match. Gilas Pilipinas and Iran won two quarters each. But if the total scores per quarter would be computed, Gilas Pilipinas has won the match.
JOSEF T. RAMOS