Hundreds of Pinoy OFWs turn up on day off to give Gilas a boost in Taipei face-off
Fans make their way to the Taipei Heping Gymnasium hours before the marquee match between Gilas Pilipinas and the host team in the 39th Jones Cup. Dodo Catacutan

TAIPEI - Gilas Pilipinas faces tough odds in enemy territory in a Jones Cup grudge match against Chinese-Taipei's in-form Team A on Sunday.

At least the Philippine team need not worry about a hostile crowd.

Hundreds of Filipino migrant workers have turned up at the Taipei Heping Gymnasium to give Gilas a much-needed boost, negating whatever homecourt edge the Taiwanese hope to enjoy in the 7 p.m. match.

Taiwan is home to over 120,000 Filipino migrants who mostly work in factories in the outskirts of this city, but the long travel and the expensive tickets didn't discourage hundreds of them from coming out in support of Gilas in a match it can't afford to lose.

"Siyempre suporta tayo sa Gilas," Catherine, a 28-year-old factory worker who turned up in a blue shirt with 'Pilipinas' emblazoned in the front, said.

She added seeing Kobe Paras in person will make the long trip worth it.

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The tickets aren't cheap - NT$500 (about P830) for lower box and NT$300 for gallery seats. Prices of tickets get considerably higher before these land in the hands of Filipino OFWs since Taipei, like the Philippines, has its own problem on scalpers.

Still, hundreds of Filipinos were seen in the streets making their way to the venue hours before game time, guaranteeing Gilas crowd support.

"Oh yeah, I heard the crowd," Paras said after Gilas' loss to Canada on opening day.

"It's spread all over. You know when I went to high school in LA, every game I played, there was a pack of Filipinos. I'm thankful for the support and I can't wait for the next game."

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