With less than two months before the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila, former national player Asi Taulava expressed high hopes on Gilas Pilipinas’ ability to bag an Olympic berth.
“With Gilas playing at home, I am looking forward to it and I am very excited to watch them play. Hopefully, with love and prayers, we can make it to the Olympics,” said Taulava, who has been a member of the national team since the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.
The 42-year old Taulava said that home court advantage would increase the Philippines’ chance to get a ticket to the Summer Games in August.
“The home court advantage will help us win big games in this competition. You cannot discount the Sixth Man,” Taulava said.
He said playing for your country is not an easy task but with the home crowd cheering up the national team, it gave the players an extra energy to fight on.
“It is pretty tough to play in the national team and play against teams of other countries. But sometimes, [when]the fans are cheering, the rest of teams favored the home teams,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Gilas Pilipinas returned to practice after a month-long break.
In the practice session conducted by national coach Tab Baldwin were June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, LA Tenorio, Troy Rosario, Terrence Romeo, Ryan Reyes, Japeth Aguilar, Kiefer Ravena, Mo Tautuaa and the newest addition Bobby Ray Parks Jr.
“There are 100 million people in the Philippines. I am sure pretty much everyone, that has a talent, would want to represent the country,” said Taulava.
Taulava challenged the new Gilas Pilipinas team to “make us, [the country], proud.”
He reminded the future team to “put the country first and put everything else in the second.”
The OQT Manila will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City from July 5 to 10.
Clustered in Group A are Senegal, Turkey and Canada, while the Philippines, France and New Zealand are in Group B.