MANNY V. Pangilinan was a surprise visitor in Monday night's Gilas Pilipinas practice, the national team's last before playing a series of games against PBA stars during All-Star Week.
The former Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president, now chairman emeritus, arrived at the venue halfway through the supposed closed-door, two-hour training at the Meralco gym.
It was the first time Pangilinan attended the Gilas practice since the team began its evening training last month.
Along with SBP president Al Panlilio, the long-time supporter of Philippine basketball expressed to the players how grateful he is for all the sacrifices they have been doing for flag and country.
"Malaking sakripisyo sa kanila yun. Alam namin yun kasi they're still playing for their PBA mother teams, tapos they're still practicing for Gilas," said Pangilinan when asked what he told the team when he joined them during the huddle just before practice ended.
"So malaking pasasalamat namin sa kanila sa sakripisyong ginagawa nila para sa bansa. We appreciate that and we would like to thank the PBA for its cooperation. We're doing our best to provide Gilas team with the basic resources for them to be the best that they can be," he added.
And true to his legendary generosity, Pangilinan provided a pot money worth P15K for the customary halfcourt shootout of the team at the end of training.
The biggest winner were Calvin Abueva, Jonathan Grey, and Mike Tolomia who shared the pot money among themselves.
The national team will be leaving for Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday morning for the start of the three-leg All-Star Week that will also have stops in Lucena City on Friday and Cebu on Sunday.