Fans brave traffic, heavy downpour to watch Gilas give France all it could handle
Fans gather in bars around the metro to watch the Gilas-France game. Karlo Sacamos

LOCAL hoops fans braved the downpour and heavy Tuesday traffic just to witness Gilas Pilipinas give France a gallant fight in the opener of the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

While over 20,000 fans trooped the MOA Arena, some went to bars around Metro Manila for viewing parties to enjoy the action, including one which SPIN.ph hosted at Skinny Mike’s in BGC, Taguig.

There was also a viewing party outside the MOA Arena for those who failed to get in.

Although the Filipino dribblers surrendered a close 93-84 decision to the Les Bleus, the fans who watched outside the playing venue still enjoyed.

[See Top-ranked France given giant scare by fighting Gilas side in OQT thriller]

Romeo Paulino Jr. and his co-worker-friends at Resorts World took almost three hours from their workplace, which was near an ongoing Skyway project, to reach the viewing party at the popular sports bar in Global City.

“We drove here just to watch Gilas,” said Paulino, a theater sales officer. “Worth it pa rin kasi lumaban naman at maliit lang lamang.”

Paulino and the rest of over 100 fans at Skinny Mike’s roaraed each time Gilas made a basket and jeered for every defensive error or when France scored.

In the end, the audience still gave Gilas a warm round of applause after giving the world’s fifth-ranked team a scare.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos