The Philippines lost but the team fought gallantly enough to win the respect of international star Tony Parker and his mighty France.
Parker logged 30 minutes and scored 21 points and France needed every minute of him on the floor as Gilas Pilipinas, somehow, managed to stay on its feet until the last minute of the 93-84 loss.
Still, the performance was not enough to eke out a huge upset, but it surely didn’t go unnoticed.
“First of all, I wanna congratulate the Philippines. They had a great game. They were on fire in the first half. They played with a lot of energy and you have to give a lot of credit to them,” Parker told reporters shortly after France got an early Tuesday night.
“You can’t be prouder about the team. They played a great game. They made it tough on us. We had to dig deep to try and get the [win].”
Parker was also left in awe with the atmosphere playing in his first game in Manila.
A four-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs and a legend in Europe, Parker has been to many parts of the world and yet the Philippines gave him something to remember as he plays his final year carrying his country’s colors.
“It was unbelievable. The crowd was great. I was looking forward to that game. Obviously, basketball is the number one sport in the Philippines and it was a big game for them and I had a great time, crowd was pushing them in trying to beat us. It was just a great game. I had a lot of fun. I can’t wait to play more games here.”
The Filipinos have left such a good impression on Parker, who arrived here early Friday, so far.
“It’s been very good since I arrived here five days ago. People have been very friendly, and Philippines is great for basketball.”