A stellar cast bannered by the President as well as a handful of lawmakers were in the stands to rally behind Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
No less than President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. led the elite list of personalities who showed up to boost Gilas Pilipinas against Saudi Arabia late Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Chief Executive showed up in the third quarter and sat just behind the Gilas bench, giving Chot Reyes and his boys a good reason to launch a searing rally that ripped the game wide open.
— Rio Deluvio (@tribunephl_rio) August 29, 2022
At one point, President Marcos was spotted standing up, applauding the impressive plays made by Jordan Clarkson, Kai Sotto and Dwight Ramos in their 38-point rout of the Saudis.
“I congratulate Gilas Pilipinas in its victory over Saudi Arabia in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers last night,” Marcos tweeted the following day.
Binabati natin ang Gilas Pilipinas sa kanilang panalo laban sa koponan ng Saudi Arabia sa naganap na FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Game kagabi.
Kumpiyansa tayo na gagawin nila ang lahat ng kanilang makakaya para makapagdala ng karangalan sa bansa. pic.twitter.com/T7fFgrAEkv
— Bongbong Marcos (@bongbongmarcos) August 30, 2022
“We are confident that they will do everything to bring pride and honor to the country.”
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go was also there together with a handful of lawmakers supporting Gilas.
This is Go’s first time to witness Gilas Pilipinas live in action since he joined former President Rodrigo Duterte in Foshan, China to grace its game against Italy in the FIBA World Cup in 2019.
He also watched the duel between Gilas Pilipinas and France during the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2016.
But Gilas’ game against Saudi Arabia was truly special as it marked the first time that President Marcos took the time to support the country’s national basketball squad.
Go said they did their best to catch the Gilas-Saudi Arabia match as a show of support to the national squad that is under fire following a string of miscues in the international arena.
“As chair of the Senate Committee on Sports, it is with great pride and honor that I express my sincerest gratitude and congratulations to each and every member of Team Gilas Pilipinas for their unwavering devotion to our country through their commendable performance in front of the Filipino crowd,” Go said in a statement.
“I believe in the ability of every athlete. I am here to throw my full support to our athletes.”
Recently, Go filed a Senate Resolution 83 that aims to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the ways to fully support the Philippine national basketball team in future international competitions and “look over the preparations being done by the concerned offices and or agencies for our hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.”
“We want to know how we can help strengthen our sports programs, especially basketball which the Filipinos truly love. For so many years, our national team have brought pride and honor to our country. We want to make sure we can keep on improving.”
Go clarified that the inquiry aims to review the relevant laws and policies to ensure optimal performance in future international sports competitions and to further protect the welfare of Filipino athletes.
“As a lawmaker, we want to sit down with the players, organizers, coaches and sports officials to determine how we can help the government in our bid to be successful in the international competitions,” Go said.
Aside from Marcos and Go, also gracing the game were Senators Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino and Ronald Dela Rosa.
Angara is the chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas while Villanueva is a former member of the University of Santo Tomas men’s basketball team.
Tolentino, of course, is the older brother Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who was also spotted at the sidelines.