TONY Parker hasn't even left the country but he's already looking forward for a Philippine return next year after witnessing firsthand how he was welcomed with open arms by a basketball-loving Filipino nation.
Parker had nothing but great memories of Filipino fans following France’s victory in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Sunday night to earn a trip to the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
“I feel like I’m a rockstar in the Philippines. It’s unbelievable,” said Parker, as he was interviewed by Filipino reporters following the team’s 83-74 win over Canada, while fans were wildly screaming at the background.
Parker even said he could be back next year in Manila for another promotional tour for Peak, the shoe brand endorsed by the San Antonio Spurs point guard.
“Of course, I would want to come back. My sponsor is Peak, so we are going to do a tour here next summer and I’ll definitely come back,” he said.
Parker didn’t mind the jeers that came his way when France faced the home side Gilas Pilipinas in the opener of the qualifiers last week. But he was warmly received shortly after and for the rest of the tournament.
“Unbelievable. Philippines, it was an unbelievable the way they welcomed us. Very friendly,” said Parker. “It’s the number one sport here and they showed a lot of love.”
Parker sparked France during the championship match, pouring 15 of his 26 points in the fourth period to lead his team to victory and bag the lone berth in the Rio Olympics.
“I can’t do it every game. But when it counts, that’s my job as a leader of the team. I tried to be aggressive and that’s what I did tonight,” said Parker.