SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan doesn’t take against President Duterte a statement ridiculing Gilas Pilipinas' chances of victory against Italy in its opening game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Pangilinan said he is even looking forward to the presence of the Chief Executive during the national team’s opening game against NBA player Danilo Gallinari and the Azzurri on August 31 in Foshan, China.
“Hindi naman. Si President naman hindi mo alam kung nagbibiro o hindi. So you take it with a grain of salt,” said the former SBP president during the sendoff lunch for Gilas Pilipinas on Wednesday at the Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall.
It was the first time Pangilinan spoke about the issue, two weeks since Duterte made the statement. Duterte is scheduled to watch the Gilas-Italy game as the date coincides with his visit to China on the invitation of President XI Jinping.
“Wala, talo tayo, walang laban. We will lose sa Italy. Ang lalaki kaya ng mga ga%#ong yan,” said the Chief Executive during a dinner with Chinese businessmen in Malacanang.
“We welcome his (Duterte) presence there in Foshan. He’s a big basketball fan it looks like,” said Pangilinan. “He’s been watching, it’s what we’ve been told. So andun siya to support the team. Otherwise, he would not go.”
The PLDT/ Smart chairman isn’t aware if the President will stay on and watch the rest of Gilas’ games against Serbia (Sept. 2) and Angola (Sept. 4).
“I don’t know if that’s in the plan, although he’ll be in Beijing. I hope I could see him in Beijing just to say hello,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said he is certain of watching the Italy game but needs to go back to Hong Kong and will miss the match against Serbia.
“But I will go back for the Angola game,” he said.
As for the rest of the national team’s itinerary, Pangilinan said the dates are open for his busy schedule.
“Open yun, it depends kung matutuloy sila sa Wuhan or Beijing,” said Pangilinan.