Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Sonny Barrios said President Rodrigo Duterte’s dire prediction for Gilas Pilipinas in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup in China should motivate the national team.
“The fact that the highest official of the land is making a personal comment about our national team meant he is interested in our national team,” Barrios said in a telephone interview.
Duterte, during Tuesday’s oath-taking of the newly elected officers of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. at Malacañang, told reporters in Filipino that he sees the Philippines losing to Italy and Croatia. He added that Gilas though could soundly beat Angola.
“The fact that the President is interested in our FIBA World Cup campaign is an inspiration and motivation in itself. We all know that Gilas is the underdog and the President was just being realistic,” added Barrios.
Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas beat Congo, 102-80, on Tuesday in its first tuneup game in Guadalajara, Spain. Andray Blatche scored 25 points, while Japeth Aguilar and Mark Barroca notched 22 and 15 points, respectively.
Gilas’ next friendly will be against Ivory Coast on Wednesday.