MANILA, Philippines – Presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte will be Gilas Pilipinas’ No. 1 supporter when the Nationals compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the MOA Arena from July 5-10.
Duterte has vowed all-out support to Team Phl and the country’s hosting of the blue-ribbon event during courtesy call by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas through executive director Sonny Barrios , legal consultant Aga Francisco and regional director Boy Cua.
Barrios and Francisco flew to Davao to personally extend invitation of SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan to the incoming chief executive to grace the FIBA OQT.
“I just hand-carried handwritten MVP invite to him to the July OQT. I gave him an official OQT ball; he then autographed personal best wishes dedication to MVP on another ball,” Barrios told The STAR.
“If his schedule will allow him, he will (grace the event). He cannot commit at the moment but he’s very supportive,” Barrios added.
“He proudly wore the Gilas Pilipinas jacket for the night. Malamig daw doon sa Marco Polo Presidential Suite,” Barrios also said on his brief chat with Duterte.
The Duterte administration will be in its first few days when Gilas Pilipinas slugs it out with New Zealand, France, Turkey, Canada and Senegal for a spot in the Rio Olympics in August.
The longtime Davao City mayor is also known as a sportsman whose presidential bid was backed by sports personalities like Alvin Patrimonio, Kenneth Duremdes, Dondon Hontiveros and many others.
It’s still uncertain if Duterte can find time to watch OQT games live at the MOA Arena.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan himself is drumming up the coming tourney.
“PBA Commissioner’s Cup done. Now it’s Gilas’ turn and time. Exactly 48 days to go till OQT on July 5. Laban Pilipinas! #PUSO,” said Pangilinan on his Twitter account @iamMVP.
Gilas’ training is likely to step up in the next few days with the Alaska-Rain or Shine title showdown over.
“Papakita na ako agad sa ensayo, pero baka observe lang muna to rest my bruised knees,” said Paul Lee, the Finals MVP in the recently concluded PBA tourney.
Calvin Abueva, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood also look forward to rejoining the Gilas pool.[Philstar.com]