Gilas Pilipinas will work hard for over six months, and some words of encouragement hopefully perk them up.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan and Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Chito Salud cheered them on as the national training pool commenced their preparation for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship Monday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
“We fought hard to get the hosting rights (for the first time) after 40 years. Thank you for being here. Let’s go to Spain,” Pangilinan said.
“Kung hindi ngayon, kailan? Kung hindi tayo, sino?” said Salud, imparting to the national hopefuls their battlecry in their time as student leaders during the Marcos regime.
Pangilinan and Salud encouraged the players to seize the opportunity to make the Filipino people proud in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship the country is hosting in August.
The goal is to make the top three to qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
The Philippines has never played in the world meet since it hosted the event at the Araneta Coliseum in 1978.
“Your country is behind you,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, assuring the players that every Filipino will be behind them in their bid to make the grade for the 2014 Worlds in Spain.
The last time the Asian championship was held in the country in 1973, the Nationals, then led by future PBA Hall of Famers Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Bogs Adornado, Francis Arnaiz and Abet Guidaben, went all the way to the top.
“The goal is to make the Top 3 but the dream is to win it all,” national coach Chot Reyes has said.
Reyes knows well, though, that it would entail lots of hard work to do the job.
He distributed chronicles of the 1973 saga – from the tryouts to the training and the actual competition – to each member of the pool before practice Monday.
“The last page is a commitment letter. It’s up to you to sign it if you’re committing yourself in this endeavor,” Reyes said.
All players named to the pool were present, except Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan, who excused himself due to an injury. (SB)