Multititled coach Tim Cone expressed the belief yesterday that Gilas Pilipinas would be like Ginebra on steroids when it competes before home fans in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
With Gilas playing on home soil, Cone said the team will be playing with a solid sixth man in the Filipino fans, whose passion for the sport is renowned the world over.
“I assume that it’s going to be a great fan participation with all the great teams here,” Cone, whose Ginebra squad once played before over 54,000 fans during Game 7 of the Gin Kings’ Governors’ Cup conquest in 2017.
“The fact that we are playing, it’s like Ginebra personified. Maybe 10 times of that. I think the key is everybody’s gonna be cheering for is. That’s why you have one games. So you can have that advantage of fan participation,” Cone told Daily Tribune.
Though Gilas will be up against teams with National Basketball Association and European league stars, Cone swears playing on home ground gives Gilas a big lift.
“Of course, playing in the Philippine Arena with 54,000-plus fans. There’s such a huge difference. We expect the fans to be in full force and give us a lift. There’s going to be some teams out there they’ll be cheering for — maybe the Dream Team, Spain, Serbia — some of those might be able to come here,” Cone said.
Gilas has tremendous fanbase not just here but overseas as well.
When it saw action in Seville, Spain during the 2014 worlds, the fans — majority of them OFWs — came in droves to see the Filipino battle the titans of international basketball.
While the number of fans who came to watch them paled in comparison to what will turn up next year, Gilas have proven many times that it can not just lure the crowd in but play way above their lowly world rating.
Their 2014 stint was capped by a nail-biting 81-79 win over Senegal with the crowd support contributing to the triumph.
Before the Senegal win, Gilas forced some of the world-beaters like Argentina, Puerto Rico and Croatia to walk the tightrope before escaping with close wins.
“Chot (Reyes) had proven when he coached in Spain, we can compete with teams. We’re gonna expect to compete and the fans are gonna give us the lift that we need,” Cone added.