FOR bringing the country back to the world basketball map and making the country proud for an entire week behind a gutsy performance and one magical ride, Gilas Pilipinas will be honored by the PBA when it kicks off the season-ending Governors Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
The simple yet meaningful celebration is in tribute to the national team’s silver-medal achievement in the just-concluded 27th Fiba-Asia Championship, which three-time champion Iran won behind an emphatic 85-71 win over Gilas in their title match Sunday night.
Nonetheless, the runner-up finish meant a return trip for the country to the Fiba-World Cup in Spain next year - the first for a Philippine team since last competing in the event in 1978 which the country hosted.
The award rite will be held in between the opening game doubleheader pitting Air21 against Globalport in the curtain raiser at 5:15 p.m. and defending champion Rain or Shine opposite San Mig Coffee in the main game at 7:30 p.m.
The national team of coach Chot Reyes was supposed to have a motorcade and a courtesy call to President Aquino on Wednesday, but intermittent rains the past few days forced organizers and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to cancel the planned itinerary.
But the President, who personally watched the gold medal match at the VIP section of the MOA Arena, commended Gilas Pilipinas which he said `has shown the world that no one can outsize the heart of the Filipinos.'
“May their performance inspire every Filipino to relentlessly pursue excellence, no matter what field they find themselves in, so that together, we may fulfill our shared aspiration of a Philippine nation greater than ever before,” said the Chief Executive in a statement made through Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
“This victory is the culmination of years of hardwork, belief, and perseverance,” the President added.
“In unison, the nation urged our team forward, and with consummate `puso,' they laid everything on the line for flag and country.”