THE game was still too close to call and there was palpable tension in the air when a popular figure stepped up with his old antics, pumping up the crowd in the process.
His name? Vic Sotto.
The comedian-TV host everybody loves to call 'Bossing' helped lift the tension inside the Mall of Asia Arena late in Gilas Pilipinas' match against Hong Kong on Wednesday night with a stunt at ringside that left most of the capacity crowd in stitches.
With 1:15 left in the third quarter and Gilas struggling to break free, Hong Kong center Duncan Reid threw a wild pass over a teammate that went straight into the hands of Sotto, who was at courtside with girlfriend Pauleen Luna and brother Maru Sotto.
Sotto caught the ball then faked a shot from where he was seated as the crowd erupted in laughter.
“I-sho-shoot ko na sana, naalala ko, 'Goal pala ng Hong Kong!',” said Sotto in a brief chat with Spin.ph after the match. “Five points sana ’yun.”
Sotto's antics pumped up the crowd and Gilas soon hit its stride, with LA Tenorio scoring on a three-point play that gave the Philippines a 44-39 lead as chants of “Bossing! Bossing!” broke out inside the arena.
Sotto, father-in-law of Gilas forward Marc Pingris and a fixture at ringside during the team's matches, said he was merely trying to energize the anxious crowd as Hong Kong was well within reach of the home team up until that point.
“Dumidikit pa ang Hong Kong. Gusto ko sanang mag-sub pero baka ma-technical ako,” said Sotto in jest.
Marc Pringis saw what his dad did and admitted that it helped the team.
“Down kami, tapos nagtawanan kami sa bench kaya nabuhayan kami. Thanks Daddy!” said Pingris.Sotto said he is very proud of his son-in-law, not only for making the national team but more for playing with a lot of heart for flag and country.
"Siyempre, I'm proud of him. Alam ko naman kung gaano kalaki ang puso niya sa game lalo na ngayon na para sa bansa," said Sotto, adding he sees Pingris as a perfect fit for the team.
"Fight siya parati. 'Yun ang kailangan ng team natin, kailangan fight until the end," he said.