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Gilas deserves admiration for grit, passion: Palace

September 01, 2019 - Sunday 3:09 PM by PNA , MDM

Article Banner Image President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go share a light moment with the members of Gilas Pilipinas as they visit the locker room before watching the Philippines men's national basketball team go up against Italy during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 game at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Center in Guangdong on August 31, 2019. SIMEON CELI/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA -- Gilas Pilipinas deserves admiration for playing with grit and passion despite losing big to Italy at the start of the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Saturday night at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Center in Guangdong, China, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said although the Philippine team absorbed a 108-62 blowout loss in the hands of “taller, bigger, shiftier and sharp-shooting” Italian opponents the manner in which the Filipinos played deemed them worthy of praise.

Panelo gave credit to Gilas for displaying “flashes of brilliance” by the Philippine team despite yielding to a “superior rival.” Italy ranked No. 13 by FIBA and fielded three NBA players against Gilas.

“It’s not always winning that counts; it is how the game is played. Our Filipino players honorably competed with grit and passion today, and for that they deserve our admiration,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo also expressed confidence that Gilas Pilipinas would be able to recover in their next game given the Filipino’s resiliency.

“While we may have a suffered a defeat at this early stage of the competition, we must always remember that the true hallmarks of Filipino pride are resiliency in the face of adversity, perseverance in times of crisis, and triumph despite insurmountable odds. That is the spirit of what it means to be Filipino,” Panelo said.

“Thus, we have no doubt that our nation's team will bounce back with renewed heart in its next game,” he added.

The Gilas Pilipinas’ two remaining assignments in Group D of the competition are against world No. 4 Serbia and Angola.

The Gilas-Italy match was witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte who earlier hoped that Gilas would prove him wrong about his prediction that the Philippine team would lose.

Duterte was accompanied by Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan.

In a press release, Malacañang said Duterte watched from the VIP deck of the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center and waved to Filipino fans watching the game during the halftime break.

Before the start of their game, Duterte visited Gilas Pilipinas in the locker room and personally expressed support for them.

Duterte also greeted the players and coaches with a handshake.”

“We are here to give you the spirit to fight. Kaya natin ‘to (We can do this),” Duterte was quoted saying.

“Basta bigay ninyo lahat, susuporta kami (Just give it your all, we’ll support you). Whatever it is. Basta ako para sa inyo, nandito ako (I’m rooting for you I’m here),” he added.

Aside from Duterte, also in attendance were Senator Christopher “Bong” Go and other members of the Philippine delegation.

In a statement, Go said "Despite losing the game, our players tried their best and never gave up until the end."

"Nakita naman natin na ginawa nila ang kanilang makakaya kahit na liyamado ang team Italy." 

"Hopefully, magiging mas maganda ang performance natin laban sa Serbia at sa iba pang susunod na mga laro," he added.