THE 'sixth man' of Gilas Pilipinas has been a major boost in its FIBA-Asia Cup campaign the rest of the field has began to take notice including host Lebanon.
A high-ranking Lebanese basketball official acknowledged how the Philippine team has been drawing a huge number of Filipinos based in Beirut in each of its games that he's worried the home crowd might get outnumbered if and when Gilas and Lebanon cross paths deep in the playoffs.
"You might have the bigger crowd if we get to play (each other)," the Lebanese team manager told Willie Marcial, the communication and external affairs director of the PBA, prior to his departure for Manila from the Lebanese capital together with Commissioner Chito Narvasa.
Gilas and Lebanon cross paths in the semifinals ahould they hurdle their respective opponents in the knockout quarterfinals on Wednesday
The Filipinos will be up against old rival South Korea, while the Lebanese face former champion Iran.
Coach Chot Reyes and Co, indeed, had been packing the Nouhad Nawfal Stadium since the start of their campaign a week ago when they upset defending champion China, 96-87.
The Filipinos, one of the most passionate basketball fans around the world, even unveiled inside the playing arena a huge Filipino flag during the team's 84-68 win over Iraq.
And just last Sunday in a 90-84 victory over Qatar to complete a three-game sweep of Pool B, Pinoy fans numbering about 2,000 cheered their hearts out for their basketball heroes. The team later obliged by posing for photos and signing autographs for its Filipino fans just outside the arena.
More are expected to come especially when the Filipinos and the Koreans renew their rivalry, where a berth in the semifinals will be at stake.
Game time is set at 6:30 p.m on Wednesday.