CAGE legend Robert Jaworski was full of praise for Gilas Pilipinas, saying the nationals' heroic stand in an 86-79 win over Korea on Saturday night left him teary-eyed in the stands.
“Bakit naman hindi (ako mapapaluha)?” Jaworski, a member of the last all-Filipino team to win the Asian championships back in 1973 in Manila, said. “Wow my gosh, it was amazing."
The PBA Hall of Famer said he was proud to see Gilas punch a ticket to the world championships in Spain next year - and prouder to see the team show the same never-say-die spirit Jaworski had exemplified during his career.
“Walang kapalit yung gamit ng puso eh. It’s just the will … Talagang you never give up, lamang yung kalaban wala kang kakamping masyado… foul trouble. Gamitin mo na puso mo,” the 67-year-old said.
Click here to listen to full Jaworski interview.
“Nakakatuwa talaga. Yun 'yung sinasabi ko na never give up … never say never."
The 'Big J,' however, was quick to remind the national team that the job is not over, saying Gilas should take advantage of this one shot at ending the country's 28-year wait for an Asian championship.
“Well, to our boys … you are doing a good job. The job is not done yet, although we are already there (world championships). What’s important is how we perform tonight. The public would like to see another victory,” said Jaworski, a fixture at the games since the group stage.
Jaworski said Gilas has a good chance at beating Iran despite the injury to Marcus Douthit, so long as the Filipinos play as well as they did against the Koreans.
“Just give our best, don’t pressure ourselves too much. Just push ourselves to work hard the way we did last night. May awa ang Diyos dyan. Kagabi di ba galing sa Diyos yun. Sinamahan lang ng trabaho ng mga tao natin,” he said.
“Pero kahit na may mga injuries tayo, kaya natin 'yan. One game to go. May awa ang Diyos. Hindi mo masasabi, that’s 40 minutes of play,” he added. “Daig ng malaki ang puso ang matatangkad na kalaban.”
The cage legend said as it is, Gilas' improbable run to the Fiba-Asia championships final is a proud moment in sports history that should serve to unify our people.
“This should unify our people. The cooperation is important na pwede nating ikatuwa at pagyamanin.”