Filipino athletes will be in full force when Gilas Pilipinas marches to its opening match against the Dominican Republic in the FIBA Basketball World Cup on 25 August at the Philippine Arena.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said they have already invited all national athletes to grace the opener in which Gilas will play National Basketball Association star Karl-Anthony Towns and the Dominicans at the 55,000-seater venue.
Panlilio said it’s about time for Filipino athletes to come together and support each other, similar to what they do whenever there’s a major event like the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.
“It’s a big thing because they know the journeys they take, the challenges they face and the level of competition that they compete in. They have shared experiences so if they know they play, they want others to support them, especially in the Asian Games and Olympics,” Panlilio said.
“You can see them supporting each other in these events and that’s the camaraderie that is formed by the athletes.”
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. declared that classes at all levels of public schools and government offices are suspended in support of Gilas Pilipinas.
The Filipinas, who recently made a historic campaign in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, recently made a courtesy call with sports patron Manny Pangilinan and even visited one of the Gilas Pilipinas’ training sessions to boost the morale of Gilas as they aim for a spot at the Paris Olympics next year.
Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann said the PSC will make sure the athletes will be part of that momentous event as the country attempts to break the biggest World Cup attendance record of 32,616 set by Toronto in 1994.
“Everyone’s excited for the World Cup because not everyone has a chance to travel and see the National Basketball Association players,” Bachmann, the chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the World Cup, said.
“That’s why the PSC will be purchasing tickets for the athletes and the coaches for the first day,”