Philippine basketball living legend Robert “Jawo” Jaworski Sr. said that unity is of paramount importance if Gilas Pilipinas would emerge victorious in the upcoming FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Olympic qualifying tournament slated on July 4 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Jaworski, a former playing coach of Ginebra in the Philippine Basketball Association was known for his never-say-die philosophy.
“We should be united as one and for those players who will try out, they should give all their best so that we can beat them,” Jaworski told The Manila Times. “Follow the line and follow the goal.”
The Filipino basketball legend emphasized that a systematic preparation is the key for a team to fight as a unified whole.
“At the same time, it is only basketball and don’t think about getting injured. You are not going to battle a tank. You just have to prepare for it even they are taller than us. There is a system to it. Do you see the ants? They fight as one against any big intruders. We have to be like that.”
The practice of Gilas Pilipinas is being held every Monday at the Meralco gym under the supervision of national coach Tab Baldwin.
“They [the fans]will remember you as a player, but they will remember you the most when you become a national player. It is a great privilege to play for your country and fight for national pride,” said Jaworski, who also served as coach of the Philippine team during the 1990 Beijing Asian Games.
The members of that team were local basketball luminaries Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Ramon Fernandez, Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio, Ronnie Magsanoc and Hector Calma, among others. The Philippines though just bagged the silver medal after losing to host China in the finals.
Comparing his 1990 team and the current national squad, Jaworski said: “I believe they have the same feeling and thinking. They are all willing to give their best and not think of anything else but their country.”
Jaworski also commended Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Manny V. Pangilinan and everyone who’ve worked hard for the Philippines to get the hosting rights of one of the three Olympic men’s basketball qualifiers for the Rio Olympics. The other two host countries are Serbia and Italy.
“It is a great opportunity to give the best we can possibly give. It is also best opportunity for the country. It is not only basketball, but it defines also our character as a nation. What important is let’s unite in this hosting. Whatever happens win or lose, we are all still winners.”
The Philippines that currently ranks No. 28 in the world will be up against powerhouse France, Canada, New Zealand, Turkey and Senegal in the tournament.